An international magazine for communication & creativity
Featured expert article: Refugee rewind – Finding the way back home to Sarajevo
“Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” – George Orwell
interviews Want to go to the dark side of the web?
+a lot more! SUMMER 2016
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Zorana Vukomanović firstname.lastname@example.org CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Ljiljana Kužet email@example.com LOGO DESIGN: Roland Mészáros LinkedIn Facebook creativeroom4talk.com @4creativeroom www.facebook.com/acreativeroom4talk
Dear Creatives, Summer is here, wasn’t it January just yesterday? Although New Year seems to have happened just a short while ago, running along with time and making sure to approach your goals and dreams this very second is important. Why? Because making plans is lovely, but it doesn’t get your butt off of the couch and into the realization process of things. Motivation is a fun phenomenon in that respect – it carries with it a lot of implications, it’s not all about great quotes on nice shareable pictures. Now, as no one has been without noticing, there’s a lot going on in the world today – many of which are great things. Progress, agreements, great diplomatic talks, constructive cultural exchange, and many other fantastic events. Many of these things have received only a short notice, a second of attention, far less than any great story should receive. Things are changing though, albeit slowly, and there is a great possibility that we will see more constructive, humane news coming up in alternative media channels. Also, the current trend of using those new channels to challenge the status quo in discussing various global issues is one of the most amazing things that we all are quite privileged to experience. Not only that, but we, as in many people worldwide, are helping to build this new way of interacting, of exchanging ideas and holding chats. For a long while, this type of exchange was something exclusive, reserved only for diplomats and high profile figures. Today, we’re in the terrific initial phase of changing that, of expanding and sharing the conversation. With change comes great responsibility, and with the concept of free speech comes the choice to use it, to get involved. Certain groups, often having a strong and limited conviction of how the world should look, are most often among the first and most dedicated users of new communication tools. In this summer issue, you will find articles emphasizing these variations, issues, concepts like nationalism, cultures and identities – among other things. You will also find the series “Security Politics and Securitization – WTF?” in which highly relevant concepts are explained in plain English – to inspire further conversation. In this month’s featured article, I have written a piece on the experiences drawn from war memories and being a refugee. We also have the honor to introduce you to 20 fantastic creative professionals from all over the world, sharing their views, story, ideas and thoughts here in this issue. Our hope is that you will dive into the world of interesting profiles, allowing them to show you some familiar views, and others that are pretty unique and beautiful. The privilege of presenting such a diversified collection of views is something beyond being important, a genuinely positive and fun experience. It’s about time to make a choice on whether or not to get involved in conversations directly affecting people all over the world. You are here now, reading a magazine promoting openness, humor and international relations. In other words, you’ve made this choice. We’re happy for this opportunity and hope that this number will encourage you to stay involved, ask critical questions and have much fun in the process. Without further ado, I would like to give you a warm welcome you to our summer issue.
INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION - WTF AWESOME INSPIRATION WEEK
38 96 196 302
26 34 44 52 263
FEATURED EXPERT ARTICLE 8
S E L C I T R A
20 250 462 30 278 466 48 346 472 56 348 478 72 364 130 374 152 424 176 435 214 444 234 454
POLARIZATION WTF WANT TO GO TO THE DARK SIDE OF THE WEB?
392 438 458
63 Rafael Araujo
69 Dr Chris Stout
Laura Anderson Barbata 10
117 Maurizio Lodi
159 Lin Fei Fei
183 Lorena Kloosterboer
AliM Pasandideh Dr Chowhan
Barbara Carcangiu 12
238 MarĂa DĂaz Perera
Edite Amorim 13
309 Jason Fort
325 Jan Anders Nelson
Wafa Faith Hallam 14
353 Max Lykasov
Mohamed Samir 15
397 Elia Colombo
Information on contact details: If you enjoy our fantastic interviewees and contributors really very much and would like to get in touch with (some, or everyone of) them - we’ve got it for you. Just go to our website www.creativeroom4talk. com and you’ll find their direct contact details by simply searching with their names. Every single one of these awesome people are more than happy to talk to you, so if you’re inspired by their words – do let them know.
Dear nationalists, NATIONALISM ISNâ€™T THE OPPOSITE OF INDIVIDUALISM 20
This may sound like totally weird, but it’s true – nationalism isn’t like the one given alternative to individualism. It’s not. For whatever reason though, nationalists and especially those who are a little too far off with their heads in their asses (=extremists), KNOW
that nationalism is the key to cure individualistic beliefs. Yes, that’s the statement
right there, and it’s often accompanied by a nice little selection of historic events to back up why it’s true and why your country is the greatest ever. But how about chilling the F out for a sec, and just think a little?
Ideology. Like the sun rises early in the morning on a summer’s day, this little bitch of an influence pops up in its most extreme form during times of change. Always. Every single time. When all is cool, it’s cool. But when things change, the force awakens and the spirit of not thinking takes a leap forward into society. And they find each other, it’s amazing. The next thing you know, A semi-organized bunch of whiners walk into the political arena and spread these fairly interesting views all over. Mutating concepts is yet another specialty perfected by these teams of ladies and gentlemen. One second they speak about mass media and political correctness along with corrupt politicians being the reason for 21
why nobody is talking about criminal foreigners – “selective reporting” as it’s called. The next, they report only crimes conducted by people with foreign names or those being immigrants, because “we are the uncensored media channel bringing the truth to the people”. WTF? The only place where it’s possible to find another bunch of totally brainwashed, contradictory people would be in any other country where extremists hang out. Funny thing though is that the groups that these people oppose and the reason for why they oppose them are often beautifully in line with what they themselves believe in. Have a nice little look at this. A nationalist will tell you about his people’s war heroes from way back in time. He (let’s call him a he) will then justify all criminal acts made by this hero, attach a bunch of fantastic attributes to him and then transfer these attributes to some sort of genetic addition that only those who share the blood of the whoever who has lived on this geo22
graphical spot for generations share. That is, this hero’s legacy is forever with his people. His people, as in those living where he lived. Add 30-40 other of these stories and you just got yourself a mythology filled with pride, power, wisdom and all other attributes which are really hard to acquire – all included in these chosen people. As definitions of Self always happen in relation to something else, something over there, the bad attributes are automatically applied on all other people. The best part is that nothing has to make sense. No story actually has to mean anything, it definitely doesn’t have to be backed by any form of historical fact, nor does the imagined attributes have to be
acquired – they just magically pop up in people. Some people. The people referred to in those stories. Because logic. Taking a deep breath and really trying hard to get into the heads of these people, the next step is naturally to look at people as parts of the group, not as individuals but as parts of a whole. The perfect and only true whole. However cute this is, it means that in their minds, anything pointing out any form of individual thinking is AGAINST OUR NATION AND OUR PEOPLE. Again, because logic. No matter that internationalism officially is the opposite to nationalism, in these people’s minds that opposite is the individual, who might as well come from another group far over there, but who is all individual-y and doesn’t want to subscribe to the one and only truth – the nation in all of its nationness. These ideas pop up during times of change because it’s simply great timing. Any change is a basis for arguing that someone is against your nation and wants to occupy, ruin and destroy it. And that includes killing off your culture. And take your women (let’s just not get into that one, there isn’t enough
internet). Thus, there’s no way in hell you could ever meet this type of thinking with knowledge, as it’s not part of their worldview to consider knowledge as a legit basis from which to draw conclusions. You’ve got all those pretty stories from which to do that, obviously. Summarizing it all – any criminal man being very individualistic is going to become the very ideal of a group of people hating individualism and seeing it as the opposite of nationalism. This is then combined with hating other people committing criminal acts here and there, all of which is argued to happen because of their country of origin. All people who are supposed to be part of that group but don’t want to be that are going to be labeled as naïve, brainwashed or self-hating, all while still referring to that old war criminal as a role model. Oh. Globalization is bad, although it’s nice to travel and eat new foods. Everything is a conspiracy and all changes are happening to the nation because someone over there really wants to ruin all that beauty and special specialness that this particular country possesses. Internationalism is nothing, all those bad things are put into the word “individualistic”. Because words are difficult. Temporal and spatial coherence is, eh,
not important either. Whatâ€™s selective and biased depends on whoâ€™s talking. The starting point of anything is given, but it can change â€“ excluding facts is a must and then completely neglecting all of that from ever having happened is the way to go. Because logic, because nationalism.
Awesome Inspiration Week: Marina PopoviÄ‡ Check this out - this is an article series in which we ask amazing people from all over the world to recommend their best inspirational person to you. We hope that this will help those stuck in the moment, inspire those who need more inspiration and simply be fun to those who would like to know more about other people and their way of thought. Now, get into the world of awesomeness and check out these great suggestions by amazing people. Â
What is your name and where do you live? Marina Popović, I live in Belgrade (Serbia). Who is the one well-known person you think of immediately when considering who has inspired you in your personal or professional life? I have two sisters. One of them helped me a lot in my personal and even professional development. From the world of internationally known inspiring figures, Stephen Covey had a great influence on me. “But until a person can say deeply and honestly, ‘I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday’, that person cannot say, ‘I choose otherwise’.” – Stephen R. Covey (Editor’s pick) What about him caught your attention to the point of working as a source of inspiration? About 15 years ago I read the book ”7 habits of highly effective people” by Mr. Covey, and I’ve gone back to it so many times ever since. I especially like the insisting
of the principle of the inside-out approach, which is to say – if we want to change anything, we have to change ourselves. At that time, I started to work professionally with helping adults through non-formal education. The difference that Mr. Covey insists on, between the ethics of the personality and ethics of the character, inspired me to rethink my own attitudes and understanding in what direction I would like to go – both in terms of private life and on a professional level. Which video would you recommend to people all over the world? There are many videos by this author online, but I’d like to recommend this short one with the title “Franklin Covey’s The 7 Habits Video Preview: Carry Your Own Weather Within You” - watch it here. Why would you recommend this particular video? Covey recommends that we invest our time in evolving habits based on valuable and
important principles. Principles form our core. We can achieve big improvements in life if we decide to go deep, to work on our roots and not seek to understand ourselves through attitudes and behavior of the leaves. I hope that this will inspire you to read the above mentioned book and/or to explore other materials by Mr. Covey.
“But until a person can say deeply and honestly, ‘I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday’, that person cannot say, ‘I choose otherwise’.” – Stephen R. Covey
“Why?” is a g but stay off the constan
Procrastination is a great hobby, so is philosophizing about all sorts of thing far too much time on thinking about things really hard, all of which will nee of value? Asking questions is our way of trying to start figuring things out, b ing-and-never-answering-phase in life? A multi-million dollar industry – that’s what the field of self-help theories has created in the past years. But other than helping people who write these things to earn money, what other form of help have they contributed with and to whom? Most of this material often invites to ask the right questions – you know, along with making a list or plan or scheme or whatever. This is perfect for some people, those who are already doing something familiar and are quite into this whole measuring goals thing. However, for others, this kind of invitation to ask questions and to think about why this and that has happened to you, is plain dumb. It’s only reason for existing (and selling well) is because of the comforting fac30
tor. If a book treats you like a child, presents you with excuses so as to why you haven’t yet lifted your butt up and started doing something – that is bullshit and as far away from helping anyone as one can get. But hey, let’s not ruin the moment, right? We’ve all got a pretty limited amount of time here on this planet, and this time could either be invested in great things or in bullshit. Right now, this may sound offensive and affect some people negatively but only because it is true and because deep down, they too know that they keep fucking things up by ignoring themselves. Walking around like a mad man, using
great question, nt philosophy will you?
gs in life. There’s a complete industry specialized in inviting people to spend ed to more thinking, and then some more. Will this ever lead to anything but is it possible that we’re making our way right into a question-ask-
material available to confirm a current state of mind, reject the models as too unreasonable/difficult/useless, keeping it up with asking questions making zero sense to anyone and insisting on nothing great in life ever happening to them ….. Eh, that is pretty dumb. Life isn’t that hard, really. Either you go for what you really want very much, trying it out, giving it your all etc., or you don’t. The latter choice implies going against your own will for which you’ll have to find great excuses and keep repeating them in absurdum. For that, there are a lot of dumbass, useless questions to help you find those BS answers and keep you away from pursuing your real goals and dreams.
Devastated people who failed with something are encouraged to go get yet another book, watch yet another inspiring video and start with the next 30-day challenge to become fantastic. But as anyone ever having met a person using those methods of avoidance, it’s only tragic. On the verge of becoming pathetic, on the verge of considering to sue the authors and producers making this crap and helping people stop themselves. Asking questions is great, human beings do that and this is a big reason for why we’ve evolved, why our species has made amazing progress and created fantastic things. These things have been preceded by finding and defining the right questions, which 31
confidence and reading about how to increase your IQ levels will not lead to your manager giving you a promotion. This. Is. All. Bullshit.
is basically the hardest thing in any process. When you’ve defined your questions, taking the necessary steps to reach your goals becomes such an easy thing to do, because you know what you want from life, work or whatever has been occupying your mind. What doesn’t do that is enforcing a dumbass model on yourself, desperately trying to pursue a 30-day challenge in anything and making it your main focus, your main purpose in life. Suddenly, the dreams and goals you had transformed into following a schedule in order to become “successful”. A great question to ask here is why that happens, and the answer is because what preceded those steps taken was the wrong question. A “30 day challenge for your glutes” will not make you a better chef, nor will following “the ten most successful ways of becoming efficient” help you with becoming a movie star. The waist-trainer will not give you any 32
Procrastination is a healthy way of spending a very small amount of your time. The industry available to make sure to prolong that phase as much as possible have figured out their question and built successful businesses upon it. While asking questions isn’t wrong per se, asking the right ones will only spin you into a loop of crap, making it harder to reach any goals. Now, being honest and figuring out the right questions to ask yourself is another game – the successful one. The less fun part about it is that it requires actual action to be takes, which is, you know, implying butts to be moved away from the imaginary safe spots. Finding the right questions will make your answer, you know that thing which you really want to do, to be possible. Think about it – is it better for you to be stuck in a quasi-philosophizing BS conversation with yourself, or starting to kick butts and life your life the way you want it to be? Now, that’s a great question.
Awesome Inspiration Week:
Laura Aimone Check this out - this is an article series in which we ask amazing people from all over the world to recommend their best inspirational person to you. We hope that this will help those stuck in the moment, inspire those who need more inspiration and simply be fun to those who would like to know more about other people and their way of thought. Now, get into the world of awesomeness and check out these great suggestions by amazing people. Â
What is your name, profession and where do you currently live? My name is Laura Aimone, I work as freelancer and I am a cultural events organizer, specializing in cinema (red carpet protocol, talent handling and programming). I live in Venice, Italy. Who is the one well-known person you think of immediately when considering who has inspired you in your personal or professional life? To be honest, I do not have one specific person as role model. I have always believed in the power of words and of communicating, that is also one of the reasons why I decided to graduate in foreign languages and literatures. I constantly try to connect with those who surround me, finding inspiration at all levels, from a simple conversation at a water bus stop with a stranger to the most profound discussion with a psychologist met by chance in anÂ onsenÂ in Japan. 35
What about them caught your attention to the point of working as a source of inspiration? No matter what I do, it is imperative for me to do it with passion. One of my goals in life has always been to wake up and be happy to go to work, so I have tried to tailor made my job around my biggest passions. For this reason, my attention is often caught especially by those people who show enthusiasm about what they do and who have that extra zest for life. Being exposed to these kind of people is my main source of inspiration and energy. Which video would you recommend to people all over the world? The best “videos” for me are the memories left after an enriching experience such as a great trip or a thrilling week at a Film Festival, where the exposure to other people is at its height. It is very difficult to provide people with these “videos”, because we all have our own. I would therefore recommend to people all over the world to get out there and collect them themselves.
Why would you recommend this particular video? A lot of times when we are on the go we tend to be overwhelmed by what we are experiencing. It is amazing to be stimulated by those who surround us, but it is just as important to process all the information quietly, interiorizing what really matters for us… while waiting to set sails again.
â€œOne of my goals in life has always been to wake up and be happy to go to work, so I have tried to tailor made my job around my biggest passions.â€?
International Migration â€“ WTF?
Ohhh, here we go with the moral panic again, right? Except we’re not, we’re not that kind of a magazine. Now, international migration, isn’t that fun? Especially now, considering the madness surrounding reports on a migration wave being called all sorts of bad words you can think of. It’s no surprise that you might be a bit fed up with all of that – this is why this series will suit you. We’re not trying to paint a pretty picture, nor an ugly one – we’ll just go have a chat about all things international migration. Check this out.
Ladies and gentlemen, for the past few years, you’ve been exposed to so much crap it’s impressive. That is, in regards to international relations in general and questions concerning international movement in particular. Especially over here in the West. Especially when we speak of news reporting feeding on making your life miserable by emphasizing anything that could be turned into a conflict. Which is just about creating more work opportunities. What should be a warning in any and every respect is when you see loud assholes actually progressing. And we’re not even speaking of politicians. It’s the extremists, you know them – the ones insisting on speaking “the truth”, bringing “facts” to the people which have been hidden by the “politically correct mainstream media”. Apologies, we didn’t want you to throw up there, sorry about that. Back to the topic – international migration isn’t just about refugees and migration camps not working out well. It’s not only about the fantastically bad integration policies that some host countries have implemented, nor is it only about the fact that people who come from poverty and/or war zones, really very much need help – especially right after settling down somewhere. 39
contributed to international migration becoming a priority for the international community.”
Ignoramuses only want to point out a delicate selection of issues happening when movement occurs – they live on it and without it, they wouldn’t have a nice little hobby in life. Or as they call it, a “duty to tell people the truth”.
What international migration is all about the data of things The UN department of economic and social affairs has a fabulous description of what international migration is about, so let’s start with that right here: “International migration is a global phenomenon that is growing in scope, complexity and impact. Migration is both a cause and effect of broader development processes and an intrinsic feature of our ever globalizing world. While no substitute for development, migration can be a positive force for development when supported by the right set of policies. The rise in global mobility, the growing complexity of migratory patterns and its impact on countries, migrants, families and communities have all 40
In the UN Migration Report (2015), there’s this huge ass bunch of quite informative things to read, like this: “Nearly two thirds of all international migrants live in Europe (76 million) or Asia (75 million). Northern America hosted the third largest number of international migrants (54 million), followed by Africa (21 million), Latin America and the Caribbean (9 million) and Oceania (8 million).” …this: “In 2015, two thirds (67 per cent) of all international migrants were living in just twenty countries. The largest number of international migrants (47 million) resided in the United States of America, equal to about a fifth (19 per cent) of the world’s total. Germany and
the Russian Federation hosted the second and third largest numbers of migrants worldwide (12 million each), followed by Saudi Arabia (10 million).” …this: “In 2014, the total number of refugees in the world was estimated at 19.5 million. Turkey became the largest refugee-hosting country worldwide, with 1.6 million refugees, followed by Pakistan (1.5 million), Lebanon (1.2 million), and the Islamic Republic of Iran (1.0 million). More than half (53 per cent) of all refugees worldwide came from just three countries: the Syrian Arab Republic (3.9 million), Afghanistan (2.6 million), and Somalia (1.1 million).” …and while we’re all up in this nice little quoting session, how about this: “Between 2000 and 2015, positive net migration contributed to 42 per cent of the population growth in Northern America and 32 per cent in Oceania. In Europe the size of the population would have fallen between 2000 and 2015 in the absence of positive net migration.” If you scroll the F down for a second, all the way to page 8, you’ve got this nice piece of information: “In 2014, the total number of refugees in
the world was estimated at 19.5 million, representing about 8 per cent of all international migrants (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 2015). Developing regions hosted 86 per cent of the world’s refugees (12.4 million persons), the highest value in more than two decades. The least developed countries provided asylum to 3.6 million refugees, or 25 per cent of the global total.” They further state that they’ve got this statistics on most of the migration happening between countries that are really, geographically close to each other: “In many parts of the globe, migration occurs primarily between countries that are located within the same major area of the world. The majority of the international migrants originating from Asia (60 per cent, or 62 million persons), Europe (66 per cent, or 40 million), Oceania (59 per cent, or 1 million) and Africa (52 per cent, or 18 million) live in another country of their major area
ics establishing some sort of semi-functioning unit through which to share selective, mutated, biased and therefore completely useless collections of words and “facts” all over social media. of origin (figure 10). In contrast, the majority of international migrants born in Latin America and the Caribbean (84 per cent, or 32 million) and Northern America (73 per cent, or 3 million) reside in a country outside their major area of birth.” You can go read the rest of the rapport, along with looking at the pretty pictures, right here. As you can see right up in those carefully chosen quotes, the world doesn’t quite look like crazy, fanatic nationalists or extremists of any other kind enjoy to portray it. People with far too little information, far too much spare time and way too much self-confidence often enjoy being heard, that’s why you’ve been exposed to that kind of madness so much the past three years. “Realists”, as they call themselves, like to pick and choose a lot. They take their favorite set of numbers and then they emphasize them, by making all possible impossible connections between those numbers and what they find to be suitable. Soon enough, you get this bunch of fanat42
This thing gets clicks, it gets attention and attention leads to spotlights, which is the simplified explanation for why once solid, large media houses have chosen to move more into this direction. Somehow, talking about complex issues isn’t sexy anymore.
But we’re bringing sexy back (yup). Not to hurt anyone’s feelings here, but dumdum fuckwits insisting on being right in fields where they do not only know nothing about – it’s far better than that – seem to enjoy ridiculing themselves publicly. They will actually be more than happy to tell you what you think about in regards to migration, especially immigration and especially about refugees.
Even more romantic, this group of not that sharp tools collectively criticize a whole group of migrating people, millions, many of who are already in a quite challenged position. Because learning new words and concepts, understanding the world economy and thinking a little is hard. Now, ideally, international migration would happen much more smoothly. If youâ€™d like to know more on that, as well as the connection to economy and politics, then check out the next piece in this series, next Tuesday. We hope that you have enjoyed this first article in our series on international migration. Hopefully, you didnâ€™t fall find it dead boring but actually a bit interesting, maybe even a little, you know, fun. Or not. Maybe a little. Stay tuned for next week and the second episode of making International Relations and international migration great again!
Awesome Inspiration Week:
Samir Calixto Check this out - this is an article series in which we ask amazing people from all over the world to recommend their best inspirational person to you. We hope that this will help those stuck in the moment, inspire those who need more inspiration and simply be fun to those who would like to know more about other people and their way of thought. Now, get into the world of awesomeness and check out these great suggestions by amazing people. Â
What is your name, what do you do and where do you live? Samir Calixto, choreographer, from The Hague (The Netherlands). Who is the one well-known person you think of immediately when considering who has inspired you in your personal or professional life? Osho, a teacher and guru born in India. “And each individual passing through a rebellion is not fighting with anybody else, but is only fighting with his own darkness. Swords are not needed, bombs are not needed. What is needed is more alertness, more meditativeness, more love, more prayerfulness, more gratitude. Surrounded by all these qualities you are born anew.” – Osho (Editor’s pick) What about him caught your attention to the point of working as a source of inspiration? Osho has been a heavy in influence in both my work and life due to his incendiary ideas
about contemporary life and society. His spiritual teachings go beyond any dogma, and are highly provocative. As an artist, I find relevant to expose those points which suppresses the modern human, to unveil the heavy weight of social, moral and religious conventions still present even in highly ‘evolved’ societies. Osho did that in a very unconventional way, and his teachings find echoes in philosophical teachings ranging from Zen till Western thinkers like Nietzsche. Which video with this dude would you recommend to people all over the world? It’s called “No Society Wants You To Become Wise” and you can watch it right here.
Why would you recommend this particular video? For all the reasons mentioned above. In this discourse he addresses how often the mind stands on the way of creation/life. Highly valuable if one thinks of the obstacles in a creative process, for instance.
“And each individual passing through a rebellion is not fighting with anybody else, but is only fighting with his own darkness. Swords are not needed, bombs are not needed. What is needed is more alertness, more meditativeness, more love, more prayerfulness, more gratitude. Surrounded by all these qualities you are born anew.” – Osho
THE SLEEP THING â€“ Russell Foster on sleeping or not sleeping
We all know that getting enough sleep is important. We all also know what happens when that’s not the case, and what the consequences are a few days (and nights) after that. We also know that thing where you sleep a bit too much and wake up just like you’d probably wake up after drinking a bottle of your favorite alcohol. It’s the don’t-touch-me-and-don’t-speakwith-me situation.
Sleeping, like that’s an issue for anyone? Fine, those who can’t seem to fall asleep or get out of it might see it as a bit of a problem, but for the rest of humanity? Is sleep such a big deal, since we all do it and it seems to work quite well?
And think about it – how much fun are you yourself when you’re dead tired? How much of value are you able to add to any conversation when you haven’t slept well? How about productivity, effectiveness, efficiency?
Now, try to connect these dots to modern life, to situations and circumstances interfering with our daily rhythm of existing. If you live on eating a lot of sugary, carb-y crap, is that the same thing as eating for your body?
Russell Foster is a circadian neuroscientist. He studies the sleep cycles of the brain and he’s got plenty of intelligent things to say about all things sleep.
Hm, let’s check those things out a bit.
Not. That. Much.
“And yet, for most of us, we don’t give sleep a second thought. We throw it away. We really just don’t think about sleep. And so what I’d like to do today is change your views, change your ideas and your thoughts about sleep. And the journey that I want to take you on, we need to start by going back in time.” 49
It’s that thing – not caring about sleep other than well, being that thing you’ve got to do at least once in a while. “What do we do in the 20th century about sleep? Well, of course, we use Thomas Edison’s light bulb to invade the night, and we occupied the dark, and in the process of this occupation, we’ve treated sleep as an illness, almost. We’ve treated it as an enemy. At most now, I suppose, we tolerate the need for sleep, and at worst perhaps many of us think of sleep as an illness that needs some sort of a cure. And our ignorance about sleep is really quite profound. Why is it? Why do we abandon sleep in our thoughts?” We think of sleep as that big, bad thing we have to do in order to be able to stay awake longer, after one round is done. Which is not only false logic but also plain stupid. “If you are a tired brain, the brain is craving things to wake it up. So drugs, stimulants. Caffeine represents the stimulant of choice across much of the Western world. Much of the day is fueled by caf50
feine, and if you’re a really naughty tired brain, nicotine. Of course, you’re fueling the waking state with these stimulants, and then, of course, it gets to 11 o’clock at night, and the brain says to itself, “Actually, I need to be asleep fairly shortly. What do we do about that when I’m feeling completely wired?” Well, of course, you then resort to alcohol.” Stimulants, those awesome little helpers to get even less sleep and prolong any possible productivity, learning, innovating and inventing. “Take sleep seriously. Our attitudes toward sleep are so very different from a pre-industrial age, when we were almost wrapped in a duvet. We used to understand intuitively the importance of sleep. And this isn’t some sort of crystal-waving nonsense. This is a pragmatic response to good health. If you have good sleep, it increases your concentration, attention, decision-making, creativity, social skills, health.”
Folks, go get some good sleep and make sure it happens regularly. Also, while we’re at it, if you know a politician then let him/ her know about these things as well. Who knows? If sleep’s that important, then maybe (most likely) there are a whole bunch of sleep-deprived public figures that could need a hand. Go help them, but first – help yourself. Do you sleep in a way which is good for you, or in a carbs-y, junkfoody kind of way?
Awesome Inspiration Week: Ian S Takahashi Check this out - this is an article series in which we ask amazing people from all over the world to recommend their best inspirational person to you. We hope that this will help those stuck in the moment, inspire those who need more inspiration and simply be fun to those who would like to know more about other people and their way of thought. Now, get into the world of awesomeness and check out these great suggestions by amazing people. Â
What is your name, what do you do and where do you live? Ian S Takahashi, Underwater Cinematographer, Los Angeles, CA USA. Who is the one well-known person you think of immediately when considering who has inspired you in your personal or professional life? Pete Romano, ASC, Underwater Director of Photography, Owner of Hydroflex. What about him caught your attention to the point of working as a source of inspiration? Mr. Romano, ASC has been a pioneer in the Underwater Cinematography world, besides designing and building the best underwater camera-housing and lighting systems, his work as an Underwater Director of Photography has really pushed that work forward by huge leaps. When I began scuba diving, and learning to shoot film, Pete Romano, ASC was the biggest name in the game. My long time mentor Mike Thomas 53
had a fantastic career both above and below water (Thing Red Line, Trueman Show, Cast Away, Iron Man 3, Last Samurai, etc) and I owe him an unmeasurable amount. The reason I chose Pete for this interview is because of his overall contribution to the Underwater Cinematography world, and I continue to learn, grow, and be inspired to create and push the boundaries, just from being around Mr. Romano’s world. Which video with this awesome dude would you recommend to people all over the world? This is the Society of Camera Operator’s 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award video for Mr. Romano.
Why would you recommend this particular video? This video shows the incredible lengths we (in general) and Mr. Romano, go to, go get amazing images. A combination of hard work, talent, and luck come together to make magical moments. As he says ‘We feel it first’, it is our eye in the camera in those moments, making quick decision and choices that affect the images. Our industry isn’t an easy one, it’s a mix of art, politics, popularity, insanity, love, frustration, and luck all jumbled together trying to create products that are both financially viable, as well as visually satisfying. To reach the level of success and respect that Mr. Romano has, is no small achievement.
“Cinematography world, and I continue to learn, grow, and be inspired to create and push the boundaries, just from being around Mr. Romano’s world.”
If everything’s have a collectiv No, no we won’t. Groups and especially the leadership part of groups really wish to introduce the catastrophe as a very much potential outcome of this new thing called choice. Everything not being mapped out on a list, categorized and totally, fully defined with no room for negotiation is bad, bad. However comforting it may be to have someone telling you exactly how to behave, what to do and think – could there possible be something good about having a free choice in life? 56
s being negotiable, will we ve breakdown? You’re at this ice cream bar and you’re standing in front of this magic selection of flavors, colors and structures. So many choices, so little time. You want them all in a big cone but that would be so inappropriate so you have to make a choice – only three flavors. Come on, you can do it. What did that girl over there get? Banana? Banana’s great, but how about strawberry, or chocolate? Does vanilla go well with those? Oh, panic. Like the above example, we’re faced with many, many choices every day. They include various levels of knowledge, information, data, emotional and rational input as well as consciousness. When the clock rings in the morning, it’s not like you’re having this big scientific research study on whether you should make the choice to get up or not. You just get up, you’ve been there before, well aware of both what you have to do today but also how your body works. Maybe you’re one of those people who need caf-
feine immediately after getting up – again, not much of a choice there it seems, right? It is a choice though, and so are many other things which have turned into habits and semi-conscious processes in people’s lives. Routine, traditions, decisions, even thinking patterns – are all just a bunch of choices. This is the way things have always been, and it takes someone outside of that pattern to get involved in order for people within that behavioral structure to become aware. After which comes yet another set of choices – to start thinking about these things, exploring them, or to become defensive and accuse this other human being of having a bad influence.
Choices and being a teeny bit contradictory Funny thing though, it’s not quite the same 57
tive approaches are falling out of the picture in a world where many of us are connected, yet these groups still keep insisting on them. perspective shared as when going for vacation. Anyone who’s had the pleasure to be on one of those knows that for some magic reason, some behavioral patterns become a bit more emphasized than others. Suddenly, making your bed isn’t the question upon which the survival of the universe depends, but having your glass filled with tasty things is. Imagine getting to work in your flip flops, favorite t-shirt and a big ass glass of [insert favorite drink]? Not that appropriate, right? As dumb as these examples may be (oh, come on), the very basis is something totally different. Do you think much in life, or does it “just happen”? Have an honest look at yourself, don’t get all defensive. It’s not that fun anymore, is it? Yet, in a world where some extremist groups enjoy emphasizing things which appeals to some people, it’s more important than ever to start get honest with yourself. Grand narra58
And they seem to succeed in some respects. Why? Because they grab something, let’s take migration as an example. They grab it, select only one piece (refugees), then explain how so many people come for other reasons (better opportunities) and how they now are lying and using the system of the host country. Conspiracy after conspiracy is built up and presented to the world through connecting these dots to something appealing. Something appealing that seems to make sense, but doesn’t.
Today’s massive collective fear on choices
What is that appealing thing about extremists and their group thinking? The answer lies in the question – it’s about the group, the belonging, the simplicity of blaming someone else for being ignorant about life choices. You know, like that previously mentioned ice cream thing? Suddenly, people find themselves being freed from responsibility about their own choices and especially the outcome from those made choices way back.
We seem to experience a time in which again, changes are being presented as so large, scaring everyone away from choices (and their consequences) and leaving the decision-making to someone else. Someone else will handle it all. Why’s that an issue?
Because it is directly affecting you. You and everyone else. Ignoring choices, or being afraid of them, is not a good idea. It has never been a good idea nor will it ever be so. Choosing to look for safety in collectives offering to make your decisions for you, without questioning them – well, it’s what This is almost a religious experience. “I didn’t has got us in to so much serious bullshit as a human race. eat the pizza, it’s all your fault”. “My education was useless, boring, and now I hate Embarrassing things. Dangerous stuff. The my underpaid job – it’s that migrant’s fault”. opposite – reflecting, questioning, looking “It’s the industry’s way of being, it’s not inside yourself and figuring out that making me”. And the story goes on. choices is what we do, it’s natural and the It’s easy. It’s far too easy and in a short-term more we accept that bad ones are made sometimes, the less really fucked up ones perspective, it’s really awesome, comfortwe’ll make. ing. Yet, ignorance in the longer perspective is all but nice and cozy, anyone with a brain is far too familiar with that one. Extremists turn these concepts around, mutating them into fitting their worldview, and as fear grows – their idiocy makes sense to people. 59
Don’t hate the group though, and do that love thing much more The solution to this giant piece of bullshit is to use that brain we’ve all been given. Groups are nice and fun and necessary, in societies, in families, in work and friendships – there’s no need to dismiss them and they aren’t all bad. Allowing the group to cross all lines and start making excuses to your way of thinking, to your choices as an individual is a giant turd of a problem – don’t do that. It has pretty dramatic consequences for people other than yourself, both short-term and long-term. Instead, how about starting to acknowledge choices, all of them? Have a look at what you yourself do, think and feel and understand that those are the result of various levels of decision-making based on the choices you have emphasized.
Everything is negotiable, and it’s not going to lead to a collective breakdown. That’s what happens when ignorance catches the decision-making, delusioning (it’s a word now) its way to make you believe it. Life’s really that simple, don’t let assholes complicate it. Are you going to make some fabulous choices today?
Name: Rafael Araujo Where do you live: I live in Caracas, Venezuela Known for: Being a graphic artist. Currently working as: Graphic artist. When did you realize that you were going to work with this/in this area? At twenty. Began in earnest at forty. If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why? Madrid. Have a studio there and the people are very nice.
twenty I was just a passionate devotee of perspective drawings and then I discovered MC Escher’s works. It was, literally, mind blowing, and from there I’ve been drawing them myself until now. What is the most important thing in a workplace/studio for you? A big enough drafting board and a sink. What is your favorite film? The Sound of Music. Who would you like to invite for a dinner and why? My wife. I’d be killed if I say otherwise.
How would you describe your creativity? As a very laborious one.
How do you like to spoil yourself? Reading.
How and when did you start to work with this in a serious manner? I was sure that architecture wasn’t a profitable career (for me) and always was good as a draftsman. At forty I decided to prove the market - I placed a canvas in a gallery’s showcase. From there it’s been a nonstop job and a good one.
What is luxury for you? Privacy.
What do you do at the moment? I paint (draw) nonstop and am about to publish a coloring book, “The Golden Ratio Coloring Book”. A recommendation for those who think about starting and running a creative business? To begin ASAP. Tell us how it all started. Never expecting to make a living from it. At 64
What is the nicest compliment you’ve received for your creative work, and from whom? Master. A few times so far. What do you fear most? Ignorance. What is a happy life to you? A working life. What does a regular day look like for you? Early riser. Working the whole day till late in the night. Tell us about your dream project. A Golden Ratio Coloring book! Who is your professional role model/inspiration?
Escher, Gödel & Bach. How would you describe your work style (academic field or fashion style, or both, or something entirely different)? A “Calculated Art”. Which is the one thing you can’t live without? Absolute Neuro-Motor control. What inspires you? Mother Nature. A book that has changed/made the most impression in your life? The thousand and one nights for adults. Check out Rafael’s website
It’s fully possible to argue that very few people are extremists if the ideal extremist is Hitler. However, that’s not how extremism works and closing your eyes in order to avoid admitting that extremist views are growing in many places around the world is to be an ignoramus. Are you one of those and what consequences could that lead to in today’s somewhat tense climate in terms of basically anything?
How far from extremism are you, if you have a good look at yourself? Imagine a world where nobody declared anything, ever – what a giant piece of boring turd this planet would be. Luckily, we all live in a place where opinions flow like STDs on a summer festival, making it all more exotic to exist, to interact and to observe communication of various forms. Opinions and statements come in many different shapes and sizes – some which include actual knowledge and reason, and then those other ones. The latter to which most opinions and statements could actually subscribe – being emotional, passionate, including fully blown imaginary facts and numbers to support whatever madness being convenient at the given moment.
fun, no further arguments needed. However, in international relations and other political fields – that’s not a genius idea. Since various international fora seem to have become bored with being serious about things, they’ve fallen into a state of insanity in which (by natural patterns of thought) not much of value could be produced. Take the migration issue – The discussions popping up, the opinions thrown up all over, the mad statements spilled out – WTF is that all about?
Seems legit. Now, as a relaxing choice of entertainment, it is indeed fun to shout out all sorts of mad things without thinking much. Because it’s 73
You’re not necessarily an extremist, but do carry extreme spots Yes, it’s the word describing a holding of extreme views in whichever aspect. There’s probably one or two questions which you might be asked, answering with a pissed off tone and wondering how someone could even come up with such a dumbass question. The most giving fields to dig into are all concerned with culture and politics – now, imagine asking a Nazi whether he would be happy if his kids were Jewish. Or, if you ask a neo-liberal whether she would love it if the international trade is totally shut off, and instead, we just go back to the good old days of imperialism. Let’s just say you wouldn’t make friends. Now, if you go on and accuse them of being extremist, you’ll get this outrage reaction of madness explaining to you why that’s not the case. Which doesn’t make sense, but hey – do they ever? 74
The point is, we all have extreme spots in our mind and this doesn’t imply that we become fully radicalized and go bananas with our views and action. It just means that under the right external circumstances, we all might get on the radicalization train and POOF right into full-blown extremism.
A “how extreme you are”-list for you to get to know yourself better Have a peek-a-boo at this list below and determine where you are in your own mind: 1. I love all things, all people, we’re all free and Buddha is my spirit animal. 2. I love all things, most people, we should all be free and some of us might not allow that to happen. 3. People and things are great, but freedom for all would really erase the very idea about freedom. 4. Some freedom for some people is OK, and things? Those who can buy them should have them. 5. Low wages is actually a great way
of helping people over there. They shouldn’t all be here. 6. Our borders can’t be open and uncontrolled, we better find other ways to help people far away. 7. They should go help their own country and people, not live on what our parents have built. 8. Traveling’s all nice, but I don’t like pizza as much as I like my country. They should go back home. 9. Our culture is far more evolved, we simply can’t and shouldn’t live together with undeveloped people. 10. I’m bat-shit insane, man! We should go back to concentration camps and slavery. Admitting things can be hard, especially in times of polarization and overall extremism. Putting it mildly though, it’s as though some parts of the world have been exposed to the moron virus infecting everyone with dumbass reasoning and neo-politically correct extremist tendencies.
No, being an extreme asshole isn’t covered by free speech, you still need substance Sure, extremists are fully free to speak up and share their views, theories and ideolog-
ical teachings with anyone who is interested. However, this doesn’t mean that imbecilic ideas, screamed out (or written down angrily in forums online) is going to in any way legitimize the existence of those views. Nor does it imply that only because they may be against something which is fully reasonable to be against, their own ideas suddenly become these God-given concepts of the one true knowledge. There’s far too much shit happening to make a review here, but the very common aspects groups (of any kind) with an extreme worldview share, really puts them in the same group. Extreme spots are OK since we’ve all got them, but being aware of them is important to avoid radicalization in times of change.
Extremism and the day after tomorrow For some people that’s a Tuesday, and for others it’s the time ahead with a lot of negative influence where so many big, bad things happen – it becomes fully legit to get all radicalized. This is simply a lack of understanding, which in times of change may lead to what we currently see around the world. The necessity of getting off the drama and walk into conversations with an open mind can’t be stressed enough here. It shouldn’t be about deciding who is extreme and who isn’t, but why there is a group of peo75
ple who are susceptible to radicalization. What are the aspects of that piece of crap and how is it used by leadership figures in leading people away from sanity and into the opposite?
It’s not just terrorism, folks. We’ve got radicalization in far more fields than that one. Don’t pick out an ass and focus all efforts on it – see as many as possible and focus on the aspect behind them. Nice and easy now.
Dr Chris Stout
Name: Dr Chris Stout
Dammit, only myself to blame?
Where do you live: Chicago, United States
Lacking a rudder but having plenty of wind is how I have defined my credibility as being an authority on the topic of career snafus.
Known for: “The guy that did the thing that was really underrated.” Currently working with: By the nature of my work (not job), I wear many hats. So, that said, I’m working on two books (one on terrorism — a follow-up that my publisher is interested in, and one on global health — a new one I’m interested in). I’m blogging for LinkedIn as an influencer on medicine, healthcare, and humanitarian intervention. I’m working on a new bike build on an old Ducati. I’m designing a tube-amp. I’m hacking away on a personal set of goals (“The 275 x 60 Project”) to visit a 100 countries, all 50 of the United States and 125 World Heritage, and photo-document it all. I’m also getting ready to launch a podcast interviewing creatives, innovators, and thought leaders on their work and perspectives. Designing a concept called “Ideas Lab” for research support of innovative healthcare startups. And of course, working with our Center for Global Initiatives and our Tanzania projects. When did you realize that you were going to work with this/in this area? Only once it happened. While I did have the benefit of benign neglect concerning high school career counseling, and as my mother came to realize the chances of my becoming an astronaut were slim, I was pretty much left to my own devices when it came to my career direction. 80
I suppose my first mistake was to have no direction. Then it was to have the wrong direction. Then it was to have another direction, and then another, and another — you get the picture. I imagined my role in my career direction as acting like a nearsighted Mr. Magoo stepping off one gig or university program or internship and falling onto another (thankfully without missing a step ala my role model). After undergraduate majors of math, then engineering, then science, then technology, then architecture, and finally psychology I entered graduate school concretely convinced that I would get my doctorate and establish an outpatient practice with adult patients. Of course I wound up treating children in inpatient settings. Then I did more and more administrative work, so back to school for an MBA. Dr. Magoo now reprised. It’s not that I was “following my Zen” as I needed to make some dough, but when interest or opportunity came a knocking, I couldn’t open the door fast enough. The good news is that in spite of looking like an overeducated drifter still searching for a major, all of my past dabbling — including mountaineering and travel — have all conspired into my creating what I love: Running
a non-profit organization. I didn’t — and I’d speculate I couldn’t — have planned it. Working in the “medical humanitarian space” was the result of organic happenstance. If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why? While I really love Barcelona, Vancouver, and San Francisco, I’d say if I could only live in one place, it’d have to be my boyhood hometown, Dallas. It has not only the charm that comes from one’s hometown and associated memories, but it has a vibrant and diverse community that would stimulate and augment my work and thinking. My wife and I have actually contemplated the opposite of staying put in any one place by going minimal and living a month or so in a different city every winter. How would you describe your creativity? That is a very difficult question. Honestly, I think it is the result of being so curious about so many things, then learning a little or a lot about them, and then when working on a problem or project, I seem to problem-solve, or augment, or combine relevant aspects of what I have learned. The result is often (not always) a combination that is at least synergistic, and that may appear or be, creative. How and when did you start to work with this in a serious manner? I suppose it was high school. I was a bit of an oddity as I had a double major in math and also minored in art. In college I published a pencil sketch in a literary journal
that was part of a poem. This was while bouncing around between the Schools of Science and Engineering, before getting degrees from both. One summer break backpacking through Europe, I shot major and minor art works for the Religious Studies Department. Grad school put much on hold, but there after I had some minor showings in some odd venues and my photography continued, and I use it to pair with my LinkedIn Influencer blogs. What do you do at the moment? As for jobs, they are serving as VP for the Department of Research and Data Analytics (thank you Richard Saul Wurman for teaching the world about data representation) at ATI Holdings, LLC, professor at the College of Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Director of the Center for Global Initiatives. A recommendation for those who think about starting and running a creative business? Well, to be blunt, you have to realize you are a small business owner/entrepreneur, and for some of us that’s a hard concept to accept. You can be great at what you do, and be super talented, but if you cannot manage your money or get the word out, you’ll have a hell of a time surviving. Fortunately, technology has made that a lot easier. Tell us how it all started. Things weren’t always so great. My folks divorced before my first birthday. Being an only child of a single mom came with some prejudice and lack of acceptance
from some folks. Plus, I had more than my fair share of issues as a child — orthopedic problems, glasses, crooked teeth, pimples, obesity (and named “Stout” ouch!), being bullied, anxiety disorder, ugh... I loved my folks, and I think they loved each other, they just couldn’t live together. My mom loved the buzz of the city (Dallas), and my dad loved the farm where he had literally been born.
major, then a degree in architecture, and another one in psychology). Off to grad school and a failed first marriage and gaining back 50 pounds or so. Then a six-figure debt of student loans by the time I finished my first doctorate and fellowship. To skip to the chase, I now have lost that 50, paid off the debt and done a fair amount more. Now, I want to be able to help others in their work and contribution.
I lived my first 12 years with my mom and grandmother until her passing and overwhelming medical costs basically bankrupted my mom. As a result, I moved to the farm and lived with my dad (for the first time in my life) in the 120 year old house he was born in (sans indoor plumbing or electricity until the 1950s), and it had no A/C and a coal furnace when I lived there. It took some getting used to, but my dad was cool. And it was kind of Deja vu all over again with the lack of acceptance. This time it was with some of my dad’s relatives who pretty much said that I would not amount to much.
What is the most important thing in a workplace/studio for you? It’s having a good set of tools. They could be digital if I’m working with images, cover art, etcetera. They could be garage tools if I’m working on a bike project. If it’s electronics, it could be a decent soldering iron, the proper parts needed, and a maliciously clean work area. They could be pencils, paper, charcoal, smudge sticks, watercolors, brushes if I’m drawing or painting. In all places and projects, I prefer natural light, views/vistas, just a little on the cool side, and the option of ambient music.
My dad worked hard on the farm, and when I was old enough, I did too. As a result, I knew for sure that I was NOT going to be a farmer. Also during that time I picked up healthy eating and exercise, and lost 64 pounds one summer. My dad’s parents didn’t graduate high school, and my dad was OK with whatever I wanted to do, so college here I come. I worked hard to deal with my learning weaknesses and was able to get scholarships to fund all of my undergraduate courses at Purdue (first as a math
What is your favorite film? I am a nut for film. I geek out over documentaries, and someday would love to create one based on my New Humanitarians books. I can’t just name one, so here are my top picks, based on the fact I’d want to watch them with any/every member of my family: Gattica, Jacob’s Ladder, 2001, To Kill a Mockingbird, Inherit the Wind, Waking Life, What Dreams May Come, Altered States, Smoke, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and Pay it Forward. I expect this list will grow…
Who would you like to invite for a dinner and why? Students. They are the most engaging, inquisitive, and in some instances raw. It’s even better if my family could join. How do you like to spoil yourself? I dream of a custom sabbatical or fellowship where I’d spend time every month for a year or two traveling to different schools and universities of different disciplines, startup incubators, you name it, and meeting with those working therein. It would be like an intellectual Disneyland for me, and I get to go on all the rides. What is luxury for you? Flexibility in my schedule to expand and contract when projects demand, and an understanding and supportive family. What is the nicest compliment you’ve received for your creative work, and from whom? In my nonprofit work, totally unbeknownst to me, a Tanzania kindergarten was named after me in honor of my help in getting it established and approved. That was quite the creative project, and man, what an honor. What do you fear most? Becoming irrelevant. Period. Full stop. What is a happy life to you? Being able to go both broad and deep. That is, being able to satisfy my curiosities about so many different areas, and then bring what’s relevant to bear in the midst of a project or problem I’m working on. I love to create — books, art, blogs, interviews,
ideas, and then use them to share with others in hope of helping, improving, or somehow adding to them. What does a regular day look like for you? No such thing, which is good. Some days are project focused with deadlines and anxiety. Some are project focused with flow and awe. Some are meeting-filled and generally frustrating. Some are lecturing with total loss of time, which is wonderful. Some are awakening without an alarm clock and going for a run with a voice recorder and coming back to work on a new set of ideas. Some are spent in the air crossing too many time zones. Tell us about your dream project. Hum. I suppose it would be to serially develop consortiums of experts from different areas of expertise but with a unifying thread of a problem or need to work on. Then go about providing or developing tools to augment the work, document it. Then rinse and repeat. Who is your professional role model/inspiration? Well without a doubt, it’s Buckminster Fuller. I corresponded with him when I was in college on a project. I have his letter to this day. I’ve read about every book by and about him. I was selected to write his biography for the Encyclopedia, and I visited his Chronofile archive at Stanford. He was such a charming optimist polymath. He was my gateway to nonlinear thinking, integrative perspectives, and the poster boy for combining art and science. He also was human and flawed.
How would you describe your work style (academic field or fashion style, or both, or something entirely different)? Collaborative. There are a lot of folks much smarter than I am, and I have the good fortune to be able to work with a number of them. That makes my work better, and all of us together create results that may be 5x better than if we were soloing. Even if I am writing or building something, I seek feedback and I’m always on the prowl for inspiration and fresh ideas. Which is the one thing you can’t live without? My partner, who conveniently is also my wife, as well as my best friend and worst critic. She makes me and my work better, and worth doing. What inspires you? Other’s work. It can be via the written word, a piece of music, a work of art, or a successful project, and whammo, I want to go out and make my work better. Bucky Fuller has that effect on me, as does Richard Saul Wurman. A book that has changed/made the most impression in your life? Just like movies, I don’t have a single favorite that I can point back to and say, Eureka! This is it! I think what one reads is tempered by when and where you are in your life when you read it. I tend to be more author oriented I suppose. Some of my favorites include: Buckminster Fuller (bigtime), Richard Saul Wurman, Walker Percy, Tom 84
Wolfe, Oliver Sacks, and Richard Feynman. Check out Dr Chris’ awesome websites here, here and here
International Migration â€“ WTF?
Ohhh, here we go with the moral panic again, right? Except we’re not, we’re not that kind of a magazine. Now, international migration, isn’t that fun? Especially now, considering the madness surrounding reports on a migration wave being called all sorts of bad words you can think of. It’s no surprise that you might be a bit fed up with all of that – this is why this series will suit you. We’re not trying to paint a pretty picture, nor an ugly one – we’ll just go have a chat about all things international migration. Check this out.
When you’ve got no control whatsoever over a certain event (or set of events) happening in the world, the easiest thing is to ignore reading up on it while criticizing any and every point made about it. Sorry, of course people with these attributes read too, but only idiotic propaganda which doesn’t challenge their views even the slightest little bit. As you’ll see while researching right-wing, conservative material, there is this idea that before a certain event, we all lived in this ideal paradise, free from crime, conflicts and anything disturbing the peace. However, afterwards, when “they” got here, everything changed and now we’re turning our society into this useless, poor, uneducated, uncivilized bunch of morons. Recognizing any of it? Probably, because this rhetoric is infecting the public space pretty badly. Now, as previously mentioned, fuckwits do enjoy proving totally different points from those which they are trying to articulate, by accusing certain media channels to disguise “facts”, then elegantly referring to some blog or some extremist forum to show “the truth”. So far, nobody seems to have understood this truth but we’re all very much looking forward to it being revealed and especially
defined, so that we the people could ask journalists around the world what the hell they are doing.
You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!
As we’re all super excited about this truth being told, as opposed to the current obese wave of idiotic words put into some sort of sentences that are supposed to make sense – let’s look at what the world would look like ideally. It’s basically about national economics. Look, there are these two quite significant concepts called “the balance of payment” and “the balance of trade”. These are fundamental pillars upon which the international economy is created and maintained – and this shit’s important. According to Investopedia, the balance of payments is: “A statement that summarizes an economy’s transactions with the rest of the world for a specified time period. The balance of payments, also known as balance of inter98
national payments, encompasses all transactions between a country’s residents and its nonresidents involving goods, services and income; financial claims on and liabilities to the rest of the world; and transfers such as gifts.” Put in English, it’s all sorts of economic movements, transactions. And the balance of trade is: “Balance of trade (BOT) is the difference between a country’s imports and its exports. Balance of trade is the largest component of a country’s balance of payments. Debit items include imports, foreign aid, domestic spending abroad and domestic investments abroad. Credit items include exports, foreign spending in the domestic economy and foreign investments in the domestic economy. A country has a trade deficit if it imports more than it exports; the opposite scenario is a trade surplus.” English translation: stuff a country sells to
and buys from other ones. Now, these two do have a lovely relationship and often, there are all sorts of surpluses and deficits happening in those transactions and trade. It may not be bootylicious and all that, but it’s the damn truth.
WTF is this, a school of business and economics?
The argument is – on an international level, all this madness will balance itself, and the whole game as one will make sense.
The main point is that we’re all seeking bal- Well. ance, both on an individual level and within the global context. The field of international economics is build that way so as to invite seeking for a balance – which is a bit tough. As you can see, having lived on this planet for some time now, “turbulence” is our midLike seeking to eat only one cookie a day dle name. As in “insane”. This imbalance in but ending up eating the whole box in one all its balance-seeking efforts creates quite sitting. Because adult. Ideally though, we weird situations in countries. For some, the want to see surpluses and deficits brought low wages and long work hours drive peodown to a minimum, all over the world. ple mad, for others, obesity (or over-consumption) does. In some places, there are As countries directly or indirectly make no jobs – in other places, the economy moves in order to get closer to this balance, could definitely need some population there’s this thing called turbulence, or fricgrowth. tion. This fucks things up.
Putting it all into the international migration connection
It’s not a math book we’re speaking of here – in an ideal world, all things would go smoothly, nicely, beautifully. However, on this planet we don’t do that. We go mad cow, bat shit crazy in settling the best deal, making the most money, buying the cheapest things, getting the highest salary and filling up on that sugar.
There are spots where extremists flip the fuck out, and there are places where they couldn’t, even if they wanted it. There are people traveling to see the world, and there are people leaving their homes for a better future. There are those fleeing from war and poverty, and those who are relocating because of their expertise being 99
attractive to some other country’s professional atmosphere. And the list goes on. Now, what messes this all up quite badly? International politics and bad, bad international relations between countries. If you’d like to get into that a bit more, then watch out for the next article in this series, coming up next Tuesday. We hope that you have enjoyed this second article in our series on international migration. Hopefully, you didn’t fall find it dead boring but actually a bit interesting, maybe even a little, you know, fun. Or not. Maybe a little. Did you check out part 1? Stay tuned for next week and the third episode of making International Relations and international migration great again!
Laura Anderson Barbata
Name: Laura Anderson Barbata Where do you live: I am from Mexico City and currently have my studio in Brooklyn. But I cannot say that I live in one place, I feel like I live in both cities. Known for: I would say that I am a transdisciplinary artist known for my projects in Mexico, Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago, the United States and Norway. Currently working with: Transdisciplinary art. Participatory, collaborative works that combine performance, procession, movement, wearable sculptures to convey a message. When did you realize that you were going to work with this/in this area? I felt that I had to address the issues that are important to me through my work, but not just to create works about those issues. I felt that I needed to be congruent, and that my life as an artist and a citizen had to work together. I had to go out of my comfort zone and make work outside the studio. My mother always said to me: if you care about something or you are upset over something that is going on, do something about it and try to change it, don´t just complain about it. I finally realized and accepted this challenge to my practice as an artist. If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why? I would want to live inside a tree, be part of 104
the fluid system that transports water and nutrients through the tree. I would love to be able to live inside the roots of plants and feel the moisture of the earth, the wind and sunlight on leaves, and be able to get what the tree needs and travel with it to its various parts. The roots also have fascinating and very effective systems of communication with other trees and plants, scientists have found that when a tree needs certain nutrients for example, roots from neighboring trees supply what the tree needs. How would you describe your creativity? I am interested in building bridges by creating projects that bring together different talents and ways of knowing to exchange ideas and collectively work towards a common project. When we establish long-lasting relationships that are beneficial to all parts we explore the ways diverse perspectives, experiences and talents can come together to create something new. How and when did you start to work with this in a serious manner? In 1992 I went to the Amazon of Venezuela for the first time and met the Ortiz family, who are of the Ye’Kuana community and were teaching the Mavaca Yanomami community how to build a canoe. The process made a very strong impression on me. It is a collaborative endeavor in which every person in the community has a role in it´s construction. The use of the immediate resources available and the techniques applied to wood-work were all things I wanted to learn and apply in my work. So I asked the Ortiz family if they would accept me as
They replied that I had to make that request to the whole community and village counsel, and a month later I returned for my interview. The village elders, women, men and children were assembled and I showed the community catalogues of my sculptures, assemblages in wood and my drawings, and explained why I wanted to learn how to build a canoe. After lengthy discussions – to which I was not privy – the response was: If we teach you how to build a canoe, what can you teach us in return? This question immediately set the basis for our relationship, one that recognized the value of each other on equal terms, where we could all be active participants in an exchange of knowledge as teachers and as learners.
What do you do at the moment? I am working on a number of projects, one very exciting project is with TBA21 The Current, coordinated by Thyssen-Bornemisza Contemporary Art, in which they bring scientists and artists to work together to address the urgent issues of climate change and the oceans.
It is a lesson on the value and importance of responsibility, reciprocity and balance, and that they must be applied in all interactions. This question changed my life and made a permanent impression on my work and my approach to art-making. It allowed me to propose a paper and bookmaking project and my proposal was accepted and began to work with several different communities. The first book made by the Yanomami Owë Mamotima papermaking project received the Best Book of the Year award by the Centro Nacional del Libro of Venezuela. Today Yanomami books are part of important collections such as the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, among others. Each community has directed their project and continues to this
I am also continuing my work on the Julia Pastrana project. For this project I am working on a performance piece that has been presented as a work in progress, a book with contributions from scientists, scholars and art historians to address the subject of Julia Pastrana from different perspectives. And, together with Apparatjik and Concha Buika, I’m working on an Opera about the life of Julia Pastrana to be presented in Norway in 2018. A recommendation for those who think about starting and running a creative business? I am definitely not one that can give any business advice! My only recommendation to someone starting or running any business is to value the contributions of your peers and promote in the workspace a sense of collective ownership. This will always bring out the best in people and benefits everyone. Kindness and respect are underestimated and undervalued, often seen assigns of weakness when in fact they are indicators of strength. And to listen. Tell us how it all started. It all started when I first opened my eyes. 105
Because my parents had a unique way of seeing the world. And only later did I realize that other parents didn’t see the world through the same creative lens. They both had a very sharp sense of humor, which comes from turning the things most people take for granted or barely notice and questioning them — pointing out the incongruities and nonsense in those things.
How do you like to spoil yourself? I love to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art without a specific exhibition in mind and allow myself to freely explore whichever gallery draws me in. No matter how many times you go, even in the same exhibition space, there is always something new to discover or that you need to see again. One never gets tired of it.
What is the most important thing in a workplace/studio for you? I would say that kindness and respect. I find that the most inspiring, professional and effective people in the workplace are those who excel in their field and also in their capacity to bring out the best in others, this is of course achieved through respectful interactions.
What is luxury for you? Having the time to go and get lost in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. That and clean ironed sheets.
What is your favorite film? There are a number of films I love, but my absolute favorite film is the documentary Burden of Dreams by Werner Herzog. Who would you like to invite for a dinner and why? Just a few days ago my mother and I were talking about the way women have been portrayed in history and how important it would be to know them better and hear them tell their own story in their own words. This led us to plan an imaginary dinner party for which we even made a guest list: Hatshepsut, Queen Elizabeth I, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, Joan of Arc, Hannah Arendt, Julia Domna, Harriet Tubman, Catherine the Great, Amanishakheto, Isabella Stewart Gardner and Julia Pastrana. 106
What is the nicest compliment you’ve received for your creative work, and from whom? I feel that the most important compliment I have received for my work was when I was able to have Julia Pastrana removed from the Schreiner collection in Norway and repatriated and buried in her homeland of Mexico. I fought for 10 years for her repatriation, and she finally was being treated with respect. To see and experience a shift in the way people and institutions were treating her, so that she was no longer being treated as an object but as a human being with rights, and to have been the one that generated that change I felt I was unwittingly complimented by those whose mindset had been changed, but I also received genuine compliments from people I never met. I received supportive calls and letters from activists, women´s groups, indigenous rights workers, among others. These are the highest compliments I have ever -and will
ever- receive. What do you fear most? Hate, cruelty and ignorance. What is a happy life to you? I would say that a happy life is one that is respectful towards all. To live in a world surrounded by people that are concerned and promote the well-being of all people, of the planet, of nature, of animals, of dignity, of peace. What does a regular day look like for you? I am not sure what a regular day would be like, my days are all so different because I travel to work on my projects so much. Tell us about your dream project. I am very fortunate, I have worked with brilliant, talented and generous people, they are all dream projects. Who is your professional role model/inspiration? I am inspired by many, it is impossible to just name one. Right now I am Artist-in-Residence at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. This immersive experience has allowed me to learn about and be inspired by Isabella Stewart Gardner. I am learning about her through her diverse interests, her passion for art and her appreciation – and respect – for the artistic process. Her magnificent art collection, her correspondence, her journals, the various community projects she supported and the ones she initiated are all a source of inspiration to me. How would you describe your work style
(academic field or fashion style, or both, or something entirely different)? Style is an interesting word, it is charged with so much layering. My methodology combines an intuitive exploratory approach with a strong focus on listening. This means that I want to receive information through all my senses as well as intellectually. So it is important for me to integrate conversations with collaborators and participants in every step of the process. Which is the one thing you can’t live without? It is very difficult to answer this question. The question itself immediately asks you to recognize that there is nothing outside of what we need to live (water, oxygen…) that we can live without, and that we are very fortunate and privileged. So the question here is: what do we choose not to live without? As Goethe said, “we are shaped and fashioned by what we love”. What inspires you? Cacophony. I am inspired by the life and patterns underwater, and by the intensity and diversity of life, sounds in a tropical jungle. The emotional response and feelings in these spaces are complex and richly informed by the environment. The next step for me is to carefully explore and understand this state, and from this space attempt to create something, in other words: bring form to it. A book that has changed/made the most impression in your life? There are several: Regarding the Pain of Others by Susan Sontag. The Man Who
Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks. All writings of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and Gertrude Stein. Check out Laura’s awesome website
Name: Maurizio Lodi Where do you live: Milan, Italy Known for: Food Photography Currently working on: At the moment our editorial job is published by main Italian magazines Sale & Pepe, Cucina Moderna (Mondadori) and BeneInsieme (Conad). At the same time we are working at packaging projects for national and international brands. When did you realize that you were going to work in this area? Starting my photo business I was a large format camera analog still lifer working mainly for pharmaceutical industry and later for computer magazines.I had the chance to collaborate with Clara Dumas, food stylist, on an illustrated cookbook for Mondadori and started a lucky series of “The great books of...”. It worked great and the publisher gave us other books to shoot. Later I showed our photos to magazines photo editors and got collaboration with specialized food magazines and women’s magazines. If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why? It could be a big town by the sea, inhabited by open minded people. I checked Bristol but it’s too cold. My elder son is living there. Maybe Frisco! ... Or Barcelona, I love Spanish people. How would you describe your creativity? To get output I have to get input. Then I 118
make it rest and ideas always pop up in a while. Once I had the assignment to shoot a tree made of books for a book fair that had to take place on Christmas time. My customer idea resembled a kind of reverse cone I didn’t like. So I went for a walk in a wood near my country house, with my camera but without any idea. It went two days later, so I built a structure of branches where books were pine needles. It worked well and the picture were used for two subsequent editions. Photography is a language I learned, and after all these years, a mother tongue for me. I always want to have my say and I’m playing around with my personal Instagram now, I’m using for fun. How and when did you start to work with this in a serious manner? I had my first opportunity to food shooting when I met Stefano Lodi, director at Nuova Cucina. He had the same name as my younger brother, but we didn’t know each other. I were introduced to him by a friend: he gave me carte blanche and became curious and amused to get my monthly shooting. I’ve often found magazines’ art directors focused more on graphic design than image projects so creating images has often been up to me. What do you do at the moment? At the moment we are working pretty hard. Food photography is a team work. As we I mean me, photographer, Laura my wife, who’s the art buyer, and a freelance food
stylist, Livia Sala more often. We are shooting a lot of articles in advance (Autumn issues too) for Sale & Pepe magazine, the main Italian food magazine. We are very free to create and our goal is to do our best each time. Cucina Moderna is the best seller food mag but its design is cheaper and doesn’t give back visual value to our photos except for covers. We are working a lot for packaging too. Mainly Buitoni that is an important Italian pasta brand by Nestlè, and Conad that’s a big supermarket company.Packaging is a more technical work, very focused on detail and involving massive post-production. We have very precise instruction and I’ve learned a lot from it in recent years. A recommendation for those who think about starting and running a creative business? Try your best to put forward your vision and your world. Take care of this or you are lost and soon become a Xerox copyer. Be prepared to work hard and hope you’ll be lucky enough to spend 30% of your working time on something you are very involved and interested in... Tell us how it all started. When I was 24 years old I stopped my engineering career (I was finding it abstract) wishing to learn a real job. I decided to study , and chose between photos and film. At that time movie schools were ugly in Milan where I lived. The movie business was at Rome and com-
mercial TV was at its beginning. Istituto Europeo di Design photo dept. convinced me that it was well organized school. And it was. At the end of my career the school found me a job in a commercial professional photography firm, Manfrotto. The man, Lino Manfrotto, was a myth himself. He has been bringing his idea ahead until Bogen, importing his stuff in USA, gave a real kickass new start to his business. So I made my first step toward my own photo business: I learned to know every camera, lens or tool was useful for photographers. Two years later I was Ubik. What is the most important thing in a studio for you? I had a very black, very dark, very cool studio in the analog era. Floor was black rubber and walls were covered with black velvet. Neon greeny lighting was always on: it was perfect for still life but deadly to live in. Then, in the digital beloved times, I moved to a good lighted studio but not yet a daylight . I feel really better and I seldom switch on my rosy new neon. The studio itself has been rearranged for me by the landlord as it were home. What is your favorite film? Le tout nuveau testament by Jaco Van Dormael is my best movie for 2015. Who would you like to invite for a dinner and why? Zorana Vukomanovic, editor in chief of Creativeroom4talk... If my wife agrees. :) Just to 119
know how she got the idea to interview me. How do you like to spoil yourself? To sleep and get awake late with nothing to do is a very good idea. To have a brunch with my Laura and have my son Diego’s frangipane tart with peaches is another top thing. To travel is another best chance. What is luxury for you? Free time. Sunday on my small sailboat on Garda lake is a good way to run away from a life of pressing commitments. But when I find the time to sew button on my shirt I’m happy enough. To travel more is always on the list. What is the nicest compliment you’ve received for your creative work, and from whom? It was on the second or third issue of La Buona Cucina di Pratica: the paper shocked food magazine market in Italy for its design and project. Director Marisa Deimichei, always inventing magazines (Vanity Fair Italy for instance) and now working on F, dedicated the leading article to team members. She described my work as I were a poet painting with light. We laughed a lot about it but I knew that behind the words she really trusted me. What do you fear most? I think that western world wellness has always been based on third world paying the bill. Without going into political discussions I think the bill is returning to the sender right 120
now. I’m really concerned about capitalism attitude to run toward destruction anyway. I’m fearing to live what our parents have been living during war, or that this may be a possible future for my sons (as I know this is a daily situation for a lot of faraway people). What is a happy life to you? In life we experience a lot of feelings often at the same time. I think life itself is a struggle. Happiness happens luckily, and I’m an happy guy... But happy lives are only bad literature or movie matter. What does a regular day look like for you? We are a team meeting each morning at Ubik studio, that’s located in the part of Milan I like most, south east of town. Me, Laura and a food stylist discuss the day job we prepared days before and begin shooting session as food gets ready. Laura is always in search of goods and her job supplies new objects and dishes for photos scenography. I usually take care of the set, lighting and shooting and the food stylist cooks with the peculiar attention he/ she needs for visual aspects (often forgetting salt or sugar). I’m running a food photography workshop too, so every now and then a student is attending. Ah! At 10,30 my friend Nico, as his studio is next door, is coming to prepare mocha coffee for everybody. The most of work is done in the afternoon and often after some light post-production or retouching I’m able to deliver daily files
via ftp at 6,30 pm Tell us about your dream project. I always have had projects. One of the latest is to build a team to shoot a very big autopositive blueprint landscape with a pinhole truck camera. Blueprint will be developed by water and the large print donated to the community hosting the project. There are some details about getting a continuous tone I still need to arrange. So no food (I have to tell that when I’m asked to shoot still life or portrait a large smile grows on my face). But maybe the real dream project is to work to a serious self published digital something. Almost smoky but that’s it! Who is your professional role inspiration? Fellini as movie director How would you describe your work style? I always have a kind of dream to display. So It should be described as a surrealist work, according to Susan Sontag opinion. I agree actually: I’ve been influenced by drawing, painting and graphics of the surrealist age, and experimental photography of Bauhaus period. I love Man Ray, Andreas Feininger by one side and Dorothea Lange and FSA photographers team and Ansel Adams by the other. It was a revolutionary movement so I never loved to be classic and in my personal work I’m always trying new things... even if foodphotography is not exactly the land of the free .
If you exclude dreams, reality is a poor thing. Which is the one thing you can’t live without? I can’t live without love and hope... And good natural healthy food... And chocolate... And coffee... What inspires you? Beauty. A book that has made the most impression in your life? Ubik, by Philip K. Dick. I found it in an used books stand? I was looking for some novel by the author of Blade Runner movie inspiration plot. At the beginning of each chapter Dick wrote, in a early advertising style, an announcement regarding Ubik, that was each time a new necessary product. Miracle promises always end with something suggesting to be very careful at what you are doing. Something as: entirely harmless as used as directed! I discovered years later Ubik was a cult novel, counting an enormous community of fans. Check out Maurizio’s awesome websites here and here
Innovation and International Relations
As easy as it may be to dismiss a field due to “why the hell not?”, we’ve got these great people around the world to bring our focus back on these interesting things. Elon Musk is one of them, having proved his capacity with several successful innovative initiatives during the past decade. What is it about this guy to contribute to the world with such a constructive mindset? What’s driving him to do so and what can the rest of us take away from it all?
The state of the international community is currently not that great. Not many people have gone without noticing the multidimensional issues in various levels of the international sphere. Currently, armed and less armed conflicts seem to have fully blown into representing what relations between countries, and within them, are supposed to be. Due to the extreme levels of media coverage, reaching out to millions of people in true Speedy Gonzales style, we’re all exposed to these things far more than necessary. It’s fairly easy to draw the conclusion that at this moment in time, many countries and initiatives are failing people big times. Could it be time for a break, to reconsider structures and strategies by which these international relations are currently conduct131
ed? Maybe current representatives should go and have a good look at what’s going on in other places (non-politics), where great things are constantly happening?
Having the right mindset – It all starts with one question Since time management is an issue for most dude/ttes in suits walking around and representing things, how about they all save themselves a couple of minutes by studying the mind of the great ones of our time? Elon Musk, that’s the one individual they need. In his interview at TED Talks, he speaks about what drove him to start innovating recently: “I thought about, what are the problems that are most likely to affect the future of the world or the future of humanity? I think it’s extremely important that we have sustainable transport and sustainable energy production.” Having a massive perspective, that is. Asking small questions is lovely sometimes, but in professional fields where lives are at stake, even big questions are too small. The perspective through which to look in assessing what’s happening in the world has to 132
be large. Because, you know, we’re a big planet and we would all benefit from getting along better. Imagine the possibilities if someone with Elon Musk’s mindset could influence the international relations field into getting their shit together for once, and start acting like representatives of the people on this planet.
Innovation – What it takes to go for something awesome in life Not pointing any fingers, but the innovation aspect of things in politics has gotten a bit stuck. Not the various fields of study, they keep producing awesome science and ideas for applying in order to develop relationships. It’s the application itself that doesn’t happen, researchers aren’t being listened to in favor of old habits and narrow mindsets. “I got that question a lot, that’s true. People would say, ‘Did you hear the joke about the guy who made a small fortune in the space industry?’ Obviously, ‘He started with a large one,’ is the punchline. And so
I tell people, well, I
was trying to figure out the fastest way to turn a large fortune into a small one. And they’d look at me, like, ‘Is he serious?’”
Now, Elon’s not speaking about taking any dumbass risks, he’s pursuing an idea, a dream evolved from reasoning about the big, previously mentioned question. The intentions behind going for something of this scale are good and constructive.
with slight variations. And you have to do that. Otherwise, mentally, you wouldn’t be able to get through the day. But when you want to do something new, you have to apply the physics approach. Physics is really figuring out how to discover new things that are counter-intuitive, like quantum mechanics. It’s really counter-intuitive.” Spot on, Elon. ‘nuff said.
Foreign policies produced by policy makers worldwide could really use some of this innovative mindset when writing things that are supposed to be useful for this century.
Re-thinking every box that has ever been thought Walking the old walk and talking the old talk might have worked in a time way back before we all had access to this new, huge amount of information. Yet, for deeply fascinating reasons many political representatives aim to continue with this backwards way of doing things. “Through most of our life, we get through life by reasoning by analogy, which essentially means copying what other people do 133
Name: George Kozmon Where do you live: Currently in the woods of Gates Mills, a village near Cleveland Ohio, USA. Known for: In the context of the art-world, I’m known for my monumental works on paper or canvas. Currently working with/on/as: Perpetually engaged in my studio practice creating new works as an independent artist. I’m at the early stages of an exploration of really dark black-on-black images, a continuation of my Mountain series. The series started as offhand experimentation using a variety of materials, from marble to resin, and has evolved into large-scale works and digital experiment. I tend to work in series, where the examination of one idea serves as catalyst for the next evolution of thought. When did you realize that you were going to work with this/in this area? Being an artist wasn’t a choice; it was a state of being. Going through several evolutions, from architectural images to figural works, I’ve focused on our perception of time and permanence. The recent series focuses on mountainscapes. The monumentality, seeming timelessness, sense of awe that high altitude primal wilderness evoke I find compelling. The metaphorical nature of the time-scale of geography compared to human scale, the perception of place in various forms of depiction (images, maps), 136
are fuels that have been percolating in my mind for decades. If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why? Landscape is important to me; I’m a nature-boy at heart, and need the awe, humility, and depth of raw unspoiled places. However, culture is equally important. So half of me wants to live in the backcountry in utter isolation making art and climbing ice-blasted ridges, the other half of me needs to go to the museums, hear orchestras, engage with the creative community. So my solution is to live somewhere in-between, to travel regularly on wilderness excursions, landscape-based adventures, and a week later travel to immerse myself in art fairs, galleries and museums. How would you describe your creativity? The creative process is of deep interest to artists and the thinking portion of our societies. There are numerous components and much is contextually driven, but I think there are common traits: curiosity, questioning, dissatisfaction, a desire to affect change, to problem-solve. The toddler is able to knock down a tower of stacked blocks, learns that they are able to be an individual agent of change. Soon building a tower using those blocks becomes a more controlled, productive dynamic of change. An accomplishment. This reinforces the human genetic desire to assert identity, the seeds of creativity. Then the curiosity, the question “what if,” the desire to solve problems, the marriage of intuition/instinct and analytical thinking, the
immersion in the process. This last sentence with the inclusion of the word “visual” preceding “problem-solving”, may describe “my creativity.” How and when did you start to work with this in a serious manner? Both nature and nurture conspired to make my being an artist inevitable. I was the cliché artist baby, born with drawing/painting tools in hand. As a kid, my mom would yell at me to go outside to play since I was perpetually making art, but I was very fortunate that both my parents encouraged my fanaticism. No obstacles were acknowledged; I remember as a 12 year old finding some orange cones, using them to block the suburban street we lived on to scratch a 60 foot image into the freshly paved road, rerouting traffic around the block so I could work. The audacity of youth. After graduating the Cleveland Institute of Art, extensive adventures abroad on a traveling scholarship, and with the afore-mentioned audacity (or some might say delusion), I set to officially building a career as an artist. This was a seamless process begun in earlier years when selling artwork as an enterprising teenager. I wanted to live my life doing what I love. Early on I chose to isolate my studio conceptually, so it’s an uncontaminated sanctuary; nothing is allowed in that doesn’t directly feed the evolution of my work and visual ideas.This is important to me; since I chose to enter the art marketplace with my work, commercial considerations were -and
are- left outside of the conceptual/aesthetic decision-making process in all aspects: content, medium, scale, need to happen without external influence (unless of course works are commissioned). Art has always been serious to me; as a smart-ass in most aspects of my life, the intensity of my art practice continues unabated. So does the audacity. I performed an on-site painting, 8ft. x 80ft. on canvas for Ingenuity Fest 2013. What do you do at the moment? Always making new work, and with a belief that art is a medium of communication, I actively exhibit at both commercial and institutional venues. At the same time, expanding the idea of communication, I teach 2 Design classes at Case Western Reserve University, a life-drawing class at the Orange Art Center, am Director of the Cain Park Arts Festival, owned/operated/ directed my own 5000sq. ft. gallery showcasing the best regional artists (not a vanity gallery), have curated numerous exhibitions, written/published articles and essays, and most recently launched a collaborative arts-advocacy video series interviewing gallerists, curators, art fair directors. Most recently, a lecture I gave on contemporary artists engaged in digital explorations in conjunction with a solo exhibition of my work at The Hungarian Museum, was just released on video. This and the above-mentioned videos can be viewed here. A recommendation for those who think 137
about starting and running a creative business? Commit. No half-measures. Either you believe in yourself and your ideas, or you don’t. If you’re not sure, then you don’t. Sounds harsh, brutal, judgmental, and uncompromising. It is. Specific to fine art, contrary to popular perception, the world is full of aspiring artists, way too many that really don’t understand art. The delusion that anybody can make art, that everybody is an artist, permeates our society; and despite Joseph Beuys assertion, if we apply that idea to any other human endeavor, it seems downright silly. Anybody can be: physicist, surgeon, competitive athlete…I think not. Elitist? Yep. That’s why we have museums… Put in that 10,000 hours. So first, know what it is you’re engaged in. Know it deeply. Know art history, from ancient to contemporary. Understand where you may fit into the stream of creative problem-solving that has come before, and where you see yourself in the context of contemporary culture. Learn and understand the art-world; how galleries function, non-profits, art fairs, art auctions. From local to international. Learn business principles. This last is important, because the art-world is universally hostile to market principles and capitalism, so fuzzy thinking is ubiquitous. Profit is not a dirty word. By the same token, decide whether you want to make work to satisfy market preferences, or whether you want to create independently, pursuing your 138
own ideas. Sure that can get blurry, but the clearer your aspiration, the more true your intent. Tell us how it all started. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t making art. It wasn’t an activity, it was/is my identity. Does “talent” exist? Is it innate or nurtured? Both? I’d answer yes to all-of-the-above. My immigrant parents who fled Hungary with one suitcase after WWII, felt that an individual should be an informed, cultured, productive contributor to their community, and raised my brother and I accordingly. We regularly attended the world famous Cleveland Orchestra, Opera, Ballet, and of course the incredible Cleveland Museum of Art. Plus music lessons, art classes, and a host of other cultural activities. Add to this a European upbringing, speaking Hungarian at home, active in various facets of the Cleveland Hungarian community, primarily Boy Scouts, and living in Switzerland for 4 years - which is what planted the seeds of my passion for mountains. As children, my brother 2 ½ years older, drew very well and was a source of inspiration; he switched to piano then on to other interests while I stayed in the visual medium. My parents supplied me with whatever materials they stumbled across. My first studio space was a desk in the corner of my bedroom, dedicated to art-making; I’d do homework elsewhere. I was constantly experimenting with various images, media; drawing/painting, brush & ink, watercolor,
acrylics, oil, clay... I never stopped.
my experience with certain films brings with it an association; for example, watching I am truly fortunate, and am acutely aware Peter Jackson’s trilogy with my kids, or as a that many are not as lucky as I. teen, vintage Clint Eastwood, guy’s TV night with my brother and dad, eating a 5lbs loaf What is the most important thing in a workof my grandmother’s fresh-baked crusty, place/studio for you? Previously I mentioned that at my childhood steaming-soft-interior bread with Hungarian salami, onions, peppers…Damn, I’m salivatdesk, I only did art, not homework. I think ing… it’s important to have a dedicated space; it doesn’t matter how big/small. What Who would you like to invite for a dinner matters is that when you’re in that space, and why? you’re prompted to think about art-making. My friends, people I respect, deep thinkers, A singular focus; there is nothing else to do people who are doing interesting, challengin that space, no distractions. Everything ing things. In any field. At the same time, within that space should only be there if it conversations I enjoy mix depth with humor; facilitates the creation of art objects. I like to laugh and to make others laugh. It’s kind of like a gym membership; when you go to the gym, what else are you going to do there but workout? What is your favorite film? That runs the gamut;Hollywood standard favorites would include Matrix, Deer Hunter, The Lord of the Rings, most films by Sergio Leone, Terrence Malik, the Coen brothers, Christopher Nolan... Clearly I have a softspot for generally poetic, philosophical action movies. At the same time, more esoteric films can be compelling; BélaTarr is a filmmaker’s filmmaker; Sátántango is brilliant. Vintage French, Italian, and some newer Korean and Russian films can be compelling. Independent, experimental films push the boundaries; my friends Robert Banks and Kasumi make incredible films. I find that context matters a great deal in considering art, and that includes films. So
Being very gregarious, I thrive on the exchange of ideas, not small talk or celebrity gibberish, so can engage with anybody, but am discriminating. Time is a precious commodity, so being a judgmental bastard, I prefer to not spend too much time with those who don’t have much to contribute. How do you like to spoil yourself? Hitting the mountains with friends, camping adventures. I find that just as ideas in the studio need to constantly balance experience with pushing past comfort zones, I need the same challenges physically in raw environments. It’s the same process; full immersion, living in the moment where the rest of the world doesn’t exist, extreme focus, intuitive decision-making coupled with analytical thinking. There’s a recognition of our pri139
mal connection as biological organisms surviving in an environment, the awe of grand landscape, that is invigorating and humbling at the same time. And like art, this engagement needs (for me) to be shared with others. We’re pack animals after all. I know everything just described sounds completely opposite to the idea of being spoiled… I prefer to earn my satisfactions. What is luxury for you? Luxury holds no interest for me. You couldn’t pay me to go to a spa. On the other hand, a great museum, tremendous meal, stunning landscapes, though not luxurious per se, are very satisfying experiences. Like the previous thoughts on being spoiled, luxury falls into the same category; they’re both concepts that to me are a reflection of a self-indulgent, wealthy society. They’re not productive endeavors. Feeling better about yourself without having earned it is hollow and meaningless. See what I mean by judgmental? But admittedly, it’s partly semantic, open to interpretation, like my choice of activity that I consider spoiling myself. What is the nicest compliment you’ve received for your creative work, and from whom? I’m not sure. Compliments like critiques are completely source dependent. By that I mean if the source of the comment is not from somebody who I hold in high esteem, someone I respect, then it’s irrelevant. Anybody that has purchased my work has 140
in a sense complemented me, whether I’ve met them or not. People, galleries or curators that have chosen to exhibit my work also. All-of-the-above reflects that those people see value in my work, that what I’ve devoted my life to has meaning. That’s both complementary, but more importantly, affirming. What do you fear most? Lack of time. What is a happy life to you? One day I’ll get old (I hope), so old that I’ll have little to look forward to and will spend more time looking back in my mind. I want no regrets. I want to look back and feel I’ve added to the human community, that I’ve been a productive contributor to my society, that I did all that I could with what I was given, that I enriched the lives of others, whether philosophically, creatively or even with humor. That my work has meaning beyond my self-indulgence. That I’ve positively influenced future generations – especially my kids. That I’ve lived fully, as Thoreau stated “…suck out all the marrow of life…”. A happy life is a meaningful life. What does a regular day look like for you? My kids (years ago) being early risers, messed up my normal circadian rhythm, and I’ve become a morning person. Depending on whether it’s a teaching day or not defines my day. If it is, then I leave the house by 7am, hit the gym or the park for some self-abuse, engage with my students, and around 6pm get into the studio back at home, which is an outbuilding/small
barn I rebuilt into a workspace (I’m spoiled, I really am, so I lied about it earlier…), or get in front of the damn computer which seems to parasitically suck more and more time. Unless pulling a late-night drinking with friends, I’m in bed reading before midnight. If it’s not a teaching day, then it’s divided between studio and computer screen. Back-in-the-day, it used to be that at least 80% of my art-related time was spent making art, and less than 20% the administrative side. Now it’s closer to 50-50, and keeps getting worse, so it may be that it’s 60-40, and studio time keeps shrinking. So I generally work 10-14 hour days 6 days a week. Which explains my answer to the question about what I fear. Tell us about your dream project. I think all artists want to do is make work, unencumbered by any practical consideration like financial responsibility, or any other responsibility for that matter. Nothing should distract or detract from creative engagement. I have no specific dream project at the moment; each work is a dream project. The ideas I’m pursuing will be different from the ideas I’ll find compelling in 2 years, so my focus is my current exploration. The dream project would simply be if any exploration I embarked on would be generously funded… So it seems I’ve got the project part covered, but the dream part needs work… Who is your professional role model/inspiration? Earlier I mention parental support for my
fanaticism; much of it was passive – letting me indulge myself in art. But much was active: my mom took me to art classes, and as I got into my budding teen years, they sought out who they might have access to in the art field, who they could point to for inspiration career-wise. My mom continually reiterated a Hungarian expression, which I’m sure, has many counterparts: “nemrepül a sültgalamb a szádba!” which translates roughly to: “the roast pigeon (duckling, chicken), will not fly into your mouth.” Basically, if you want something to happen, then get off your ass and make it happen. Thanks mom. I was captivated by comic books, so my parents set up a meeting with the editorial cartoonist Ray Osrin at the Plain Dealer, Cleveland’s daily newspaper. Ray was tremendously gracious reviewing my portfolio, to the point where he set up the paper to do an article on me; I had a cover and 2-page spread in their Friday Magazine section at age 12. Ok, so I was REALLY spoiled… Later around age 16, Victor Vasarhelyi was in Cleveland, and my parents took me to the hotel where he had a press conference or some such public event. Vasarhelyi is Hungarian, so my parents introduced themselves, with me standing there like a befuddled idiot, portfolio in hand. He invited us up to his suite and looked at my work; we talked art in Hungarian for maybe 2 hours. Pretty cool. There were other opportunities for which I’m grateful, but in distillation, the main lesson
learned was that one could build their lives around what they loved to do. So as a student and young adult, I gravitated towards those teachers and artists that were active in their fields, doing what they love. That includes my wonderful high school art teacher, Vincent Ferarra, teachers at art school, Ed Mieczkowsky, Julian Stanczak, Larry Krause, Ralph Whoerman and others, and my friends A.D. Peters, Guy-Vincent, Sue Wall, Robert Thurmer…this is by no means an all-inclusive list, and many more should/ could be added…
– to speak to what an artist wishes to say today about the human condition, or art itself.
How would you describe your work style (academic field or fashion style, or both, or something entirely different)? I’ve never quite found it necessary to define the style I work in, to the contrary, I don’t like limitations. My work is rooted in Renaissance foundations but as a contemporary artist, my concerns and modes of expression reflect the context in which I function, today, in this era.
A book that has changed/made the most impression in your life? That’s a tough one, because I read every day. Countless art books have been devoured over the years, but most of my reading is not art-based, but science-based. It feeds my art in a different way.
I’m relatively traditional in that I make 2 dimensional objects, am interested in depiction and how we human beings perceive images.I love mark-making. But rehashing 19th century ideas that were considered 150 years ago I don’t find compelling. Art is always a reflection, a mirror of the context in which it was created, so reflecting on a non-contemporary context/time doesn’t make sense. It’s nostalgia. That doesn’t mean rejecting what came before; it means learning it, absorbing it, assimilating it into our current vocabulary of expression, then using aspects of it - or not 142
Which is the one thing you can’t live without? Creative thought/visual problem-solving by me and/or others. What inspires you? Creative thought/visual problem-solving by others. Great art. Great thinkers. Great doers. Primal landscapes. Adventure. Challenges.
Like films, I jump back and forth between lighter fare and depth; so I can devour John LeCarre one week, and ponder E. O. Wilson the next, then jump over to Jared Diamond, Umberto Eco, Stephen J Gould, Brian Greene, David Quamen, or get nostalgic for fiction authors like Robert Ludlum or Frank Herbert. And going further back in time, if I have to choose specific influence/impact, I’d have to say comic books. I learned anatomy, perspective, composition, narrative, and all the principles of art and design by the time I got to high school. The great illustrators knew their stuff, and gave me a solid foundation which immersion in formal education
expanded upon. Closing: All creatives have their story, the story of why they are creatives, the journey on how they got to be creatives. We may be hardwired, but still need to find reasons, explanations. The above is mine. Thanks for the opportunity to share my thoughts. Check out Georgeâ€™s 6 minute documentary on Cloudscape rightÂ here
What if soft drinks were ou
Yes, there’s a lot of spamming currently going on in terms of occupying the about to change, because a significant concept for every single person on th the door open and lets out the knowledge. What is today seen as less and les can actually prove to be far more important than ever before. Who should ju Sit back, relax, and imagine the following. You’re the citizen of a country which is fabulous. You’ve got plenty of cultural events to attend, there’s a huge variety of people, interests and ideas. You can travel freely and frequently do so, getting to know all sorts of people (and all of them are on Facebook too!). Now, in your passport, you can see all of those things you’ve always seen, except nationality. Instead, you’ve got your soft drink preference stated – be it Coke or Pepsi or whatever. Note, it’s not the company making these drinks, but the very drink itself that is printed right there on your piece of fancy identification paper. This note is the main note in the passport – 152
all other things are secondary. As you are traveling, the security persons make sure to check your passport and register your presence at that given security check. So, throughout the world, all of the places you’ve visited – all of them are registered with your name firstly and directly related to your soft drink of preference.
Say hello to your new country Even more so, within your country of citizenship, the national museum is now the [insert soft drink name] museum. For further reference, this is going to be about Coca Cola. You’ve got;
ur main identity attribute?
concept of identity and isolating it from the openness it deserves. That’s his planet can only be hijacked for so long. That is, until someone knocks ss valid interesting discussions about all things culture and international, udge you and on the basis of what exactly? •
the Coca Cola hospital,
Coca Cola School of Business,
the Coca Cola armed forces,
Coca Cola Pop Music,
the Coca Cola government,
Coca Cola heroes,
the Coca Cola political parties and the Coca Cola president,
the Coca Cola airlines,
the Coca Cola main dish,
Coca Cola folk songs,
Coca Cola t-shirts,
Coca Cola football,
Coca Cola history books,
Coca Cola Banks,
….and the list goes on. Although you don’t walk around and obsess over Coca Cola, it is indirectly placed so as to be a constant reminder of who you are and what that means. Your values, your people.
What about international relations in this new world of ours? Moving on to inter-soft-drinks-tional relations, the representatives are picked out by their skills and competencies, alongside their experience and record of excellence. However, what they represent is mainly one thing – their soft drink. Your representatives stand proudly with their Coca Cola print in their documents, ready to defend their bubbly values and secret recipe policies at all costs, while promoting unity of all people, all soft drink geographical areas. In terms of international issues, there are quite a few and often in the border areas, where Coca Cola meets Pepsi and Pepsi meets Sprite, and Fanta borders both 7Up and MountainDew. Not only that, but you’ve got Virgin Coke insisting on serious territorial and security policies on the Dr. Pepper guys and the Pop Shoppe people. The growing tension between Floravanti and CULT Energy Drink is serious matter, but not compared with the issues surrounding the Big Five – Manzana, Blue Sheep More Hito, Puolukkapore, Tropico and Schwip Schwap. The big actors, Fassbrause, Balatonboglári, Appy Fizz, AshiMashi and Zip, all make sure to keep track of these various intersoft-drinks-tional conflicts in the Soft Drinks Security Council. There are various intersoft-drinks-tional initiatives and non-governmental organizations aimed at maintaining 154
peace among the soft drinks, creating plenty of space for inter-soft-drink discussions.
So what does this soft drink perspective lead to? Well, It’s not like you’re walking around all day thinking about being Coca Cola, but some people are doing exactly that. The extreme Coca Cola-ists are determined to make your country soft-drinkly clean and pure and keep things somewhat conservative. Other softies aren’t as pure, they’re not as intelligent and they only want to ruin the amazing culture that you guys have built since, like, way back. The more reasonable people are less concerned with the soft-drink issues, yet they feel somewhat safe in having a group of like-minded individuals sharing values, ideas and sugar of preference. Since you’re all hanging out online quite a bit and have got the opportunity to get to know each other despite cultural, soft-drinky differences – you’ve seen that there are Fanta people out there with who you’ve got much more in common. Not everyone, but some of those guys.
Also, you’ve noted that the international issues aren’t as black and white as they have been portrayed in the media up until this very day, but people are individuals and with that comes many, many different stories and mindsets to take into account. All of this insight has made you a bit, you know, thoughtful about what propaganda is, how politics are used in not-great ways, who said what to whom and why, and about a thousand other questions. You’re experiencing a bit of a lack of trust, a growing suspicious perspective through which you view all of those actors. On the one hand, you feel that there’s a lot of weird information being spread about issues and other people. The narrow views shared and the lack of variety becomes more ridiculous each time a new headline pops up from nowhere. On the other hand, all of this makes you question who you yourself are and what this means to you, to your identity. What is your identity? Is it Coca Cola? You’re not so sure anymore, nor are you sure of how to feel about it.
Is picking out one attribute really a brilliant idea? Now, this would all be such a tremendous collection of bullshit if it wasn’t how things actually are today, in this real world that we all have the privilege to build. Identities that people in all countries hold as their own are in fact based on old, very old, very narrow selections of attributes. Which are based on what that other bad guy over there is in relation to all the great things we are over here. In a highly interconnected world where perspectives can’t be controlled, the emphasis on these short spans of attributes in countries all over the world is a really dumb idea. It becomes clearer than ever that it has probably always been a really dumb idea. “The big actors, Fassbrause, Balatonboglári, Appy Fizz, AshiMashi and Zip, all make sure to keep track of these various inter-softdrinks-tional conflicts in the Soft Drinks Security Council.” Today, as people are chatting and exchanging ideas, they all start to understand that the very foundation upon which identities have been defined, is a shaky one. Had it been solid, then it would have made much more sense to emphasize the many great attributes people on this planet share. That would at least make reality come a little closer to the constructed ideas. 155
Instead, people have been dumbfounded and now have to deal with a huge matter â€“ figuring out who they are, what they are, what their neighbors are and on what kind of planet they would like to live. In conclusion, have some favorite soft drink and chill the F out.
Lin Fei Fei
Name: Lin Fei Fei Where do you live: Sacramento, CA Known for: Painter and Artist Currently working with: Oil Painting and photography When did you realize that you were going to work with this/in this area? When I graduated high school I realized I wanted to be a professional artist. I am truly the happiest when I am painting. If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why? I would love to live in Florence, Italy. I have been fortunate enough to travel there and I really love the weather and artistic history. It would be so inspiring to live in such a beautiful place. How would you describe your creativity? My creatively comes entirely from nature. I really am inspired by the world around me and the real emotions of people. Real life problems and situations inspire me to express the reality of the world. I am motivated by power and beauty from the universe. How and when did you start to work with this in a serious manner? I became very serious with my art when I was earning my Master’s Degree. I was learning the ins and outs of being a professional artist. It was a struggle initially but I have learned so much along the way. What do you do at the moment? Currently I am a professional artist who 160
competes in exhibitions worldwide, I teach art classes, and tutor students. Working and inspiring younger generations is really one of my passions. A recommendation for those who think about starting and running a creative business? Always follow your heart and know what you want to be and what you want to do. It will be tough, but keep going if you know what you are doing will make you happy. What is the most important thing in a workplace/studio for you? I need lots of light and space to be comfortable and creative. What is your favorite film? The Green Mile and Secondhand Lions. Who would you like to invite for a dinner and why? Michelangelo, Dali, Jenny Saville. These are some of my favorite artists from some very different periods of art. I could learn so much from each one of them. How do you like to spoil yourself? Eat pizza and drink with my friends. What is luxury for you? Time. What is the nicest compliment you’ve received for your creative work, and from whom? My father has been very supportive of my career. Anytime he complements me it is such a fulfilling feeling and inspires me to continue to be great.
What do you fear most? Living a life without the people I love What is a happy life to you? Creating, teaching, and inspiring people. What does a regular day look like for you? Coffee in the morning, painting, working out and running, reading a good book. Tell us about your dream project. I would build a top-of-the-line oceanfront art studio so I could paint every day from dawn to dusk. Who is your professional role model/inspiration? Georgia O’Keeffe. She is a role model for young female artists. How would you describe your work style (academic field or fashion style, or both, or something entirely different)? A combination of abstract impressionism, large scale paintings, and power with energy. Which is the one thing you can‘t live without? Freedom and fresh air. What inspires you? People and nature. A book that has changed/made the most impression in your life? Life of Pi. Did you ever live in a country other than China? If so, where? I have always lived in China but have been lucky enough to travel to many of
my dream spots around the world. While receiving my master’s degree, I was allowed the opportunity to study abroad for a semester in Norway in 2013 and in Italy in 2014. If you could travel anywhere, where would it be and why? I have always been fascinated by space and I would love to travel to the dark side of the moon. Pink Floyd style! Which career did you hope to have as a child? As a child I remembered the first time I saw a western fashion show on TV. At the time it was very rare to see things like this in China and I was immediately interested in the clothes the models were wearing. I filled notebook after notebooks with drawings and ideas as I dreamed of be-coming a fashion designer. Which do you prefer: Summer or winter? City or countryside? Sea or mountains? Dogs or cats? Car or bicycle? Summer, Countryside, Sea, Dogs, Car. What do you like to do in your free time? Paint, relax at home, Bike rides, layout in the summertime and enjoy the sun. What has been your biggest success in life, so far? When I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in 2011, I was fortunate enough to be chosen to represent my university at a conference in Tianjin. There were so many famous people from around the world there; including Xu Bing, that CCTV even 161
filmed the event for the news. I gave an important speech that moved the audience and even brought some to tears. I was so nervous before the speech and my professor Mr. Gong just told me to be myself. I was shocked by how well the words flowed from me. I was very proud of myself and the attention that I brought to my university and professors. I still heed the advice my professor gave me that day. What is your philosophy on life? Or, your favorite quotation? “Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you.”― Walt Whitman What is your New Year’s Resolution or goal for 2016? I want to express myself through my art and inspire others. Connect with Fei Fei via Facebook
Buzzword diarrhea – Why it’s not a great thing to do that now Impressing with skills is all great, especially if they don’t involve bullshit professional verbal propaganda, sung out like an opera. You’ve possibly been around individuals who may prefer to shout out their experience and set of skills, instead of actually going out and proving their capacity. Even worse is believing that current standard phrases will lead to anything other than people who hear it to think that you’re really great at standard phrases. Why isn’t all of that a great idea? 176
Copying what everyone else says – How smart is that? Most people love to interact. Some of them might not enjoy to initiate any sort of conversation, but they will very much enjoy it when someone who is great at it does it. Spontaneous chats about the most fun things is what to expect in such circumstances, whether you’re finding yourself in a private or professional setting. Now, what’s that other situation? You know it, it’s when you find yourself stuck in a setting with someone (or more of them) who is keen on showing of his massive verbal skills. All the stories start in this way – there’s something this guy has read and it often involves some research, some sort of report. He has to state (loudly) whether he agrees with the conclusions of that report, after which the long monologue takes place. The whole first part was just an appetizer.
Despite what the pros say, copying parts of their verbal repertoire won’t magically lead to the knowledge behind those words to be finding its way to your head. The times when impressing other people happened through reciting someone else are long gone – Google happened and that platform kicks our ass big times. Now, what is left is much more demanding than playing memory games and raising voices. People today are actually required to think a little harder before they speak, and be careful so as to not make a dumbass out of themselves by buzzwording like there’s no tomorrow. In any form of communication, some predispositions and preconditions are defined, that’s what makes them differ from each other in the first place. If you’re in a food shop with the aim to get yourself a steak, and you say: “Dear Mr. Food Shop Representative, 177
It is my utmost pleasure and deep honor to be here today. I would like to express my deepest gratitude for your magnificent efforts in creating world piece by selecting the finest pieces of meat to offer your customers. I am intrigued by your passion and determination to fight for what is right, to seek mutual benefits in all your efforts and to put in your expertise in promoting the high standards to which any individual of the free world subscribes. I would like to have ….” ….you will probably be met with squinting eyes, tense lips, stiff shoulders and then someone in line behind you kindly letting you know that you should cut the crap and hurry the F up with your order. Using a totally misplaced rhetoric in a setting demanding something of the opposite choices of words isn’t going to prove intelligence, brilliance or skills – but the opposite. Even going for the other extreme, the one where you try to outsmart someone who is clearly more experienced and skilled than you in his field, won’t make good shit happen. There’s a very minimal chance that you know more about meat than the meat guy, or more about cars than the cars guy, or about Kantian philosophy than the Kant philosopher guy – and the list goes on. Having picked up some buzzwords or cute concepts along the way doesn’t do much good, really. 178
How great is buzzwording in interaction with other people? This is not to say that you need a doctoral degree in a subject in order to talk about it, far from it – this topic isn’t about academic degrees but about the idea of the survival of the fittest. Try walking into any Silicon Valley tech startup and act like a diplomat ready to hold serious talks on world peace. You may have massive knowledge in the world peace field of doing things, but that won’t help you here because nobody gives a shit about that. That is the point. It takes a finesse, a sensibility, in order to use buzzwords in a way to which people will respond positively. Is it worth spending time on learning about these things? Since authenticity is on the map and seems to be staying here for quite some time, that may not be the case. Being authentic and using the same buzzing words do neutralize one another, don’t they? •
I say I’m Einstein, but I don’t know how to open a door, any door.
I say tech buzzwords and phrases, but I can’t even handle a smartphone properly.
I say I’m creative, but dress, walk, talk, act and think the same way as anyone else.
ate exclusivity or “being chosen” won’t happen, because anything and everything you say of that sort will be online within seconds. Thousands of people will enjoy this exclusivity and the life span of such selections of words will be much shorter. Also, the level of ridicule following such buzzword statements will serve as great material for stereotyping pictures, videos and other fun material to be massively shared and laughed at. Despite what anyone may believe, buzzing words will never be able to compete with delivering solid knowledge. See? Neutralizing. Especially in interaction, when speaking with other people, this is a tricky little sucker. The Golden Rule is useful here, how do you feel when someone approaches you and starts babbling on and on and on about all things nothing, really loudly?
Why buzzword spittin’ was cool before, in the way-back times While having buzzword diarrhea might have been useful before the internet was a thing and before we all had instant access to information, things change and so do preferences. In a world where information is limited to a small group of people, using words to create a sense of exclusivity is a great idea, because it works.
Is buzzword diarrhea here to stay forever? It’s in the basics of a human condition to want two things – belong to a group and prove skills. Both of these things can be done in a dumbass way or in an elegant, smart and strategic way. Or, you could choose the easy, non-thinking way and learn the buzzwords, copy someone’s tone of voice and then hunt for glory. The latter method hasn’t been proved to do much good, although some people create some short-term success as they embrace it and go for being among the first
Today, using anything in word form to cre179
people to be cool before it’s cool. Influence can be a strong force and sometimes, it’s hard to distinguish between what is good influence, and what is complete bat shit craziness. The art of sensibility is key here, determining whether or not buzzword influence is going to be to your benefit or quite the opposite. Buzzword diarrhea will most likely be here forever, since the whole influence/ group-belonging thing is here to stay for some time as well. Small doses of this insanity may be beneficial, but carefully used and thoughtfully chosen. Careful, they’re contagious.
Name: Lorena Kloosterboer, I’m a Dutch-Argentine artist (born in the Netherlands, 1962) Where do you live: I live in a renovated warehouse (dating from 1892) in Antwerp, Belgium. Known for: •
Painting fine realism
Author of “Painting in Acrylics – the Indispensable Guide”
Several public bronze statues located in Wassenaar, the Netherlands
Currently working on: Still lifes in which I seek to capture the fascinating interactions between colors, light, shadows, textures and reflections, and unite them in visual poetry. My compositions are infused with symbolic meaning, allowing me freedom of expression. I continue developing and refining my detailed painting techniques using acrylics. A current still life series that is proving quite fruitful, entitled Tempus ad Requiem, focuses on birds perching on ceramic or glass objects. When did you realize that you were going to work in this area? Tell us how it all started. I’ve painted since childhood, but my first career choice was fashion design. Through a twist of life’s circumstances, I ended up attending classical art school in Buenos Aires, Argentina, instead. Due to the sociopolitical situation at the time (military dictatorship in the early 1980s), I encountered quite a bit of xenophobic and misogynist 184
attitudes from both fellow students as well as teachers. These unexpected stumbling blocks fueled my determination to become the best art student, to stand up and fight the persistent bullying and sabotage of my artwork. Overcoming these setbacks and even thriving under these difficult circumstances by receiving high grades, winning several important awards, and selling artwork made me realize Art would always play a central role in my life. My art has come to define me as a person. How would you describe your creativity? The way I’d describe my creativity is like falling in love. I see beauty everywhere — in nature, in objects, in words and music, in the human form, in moments… I seek to capture the splendor of what attracts me with meticulous craftsmanship. Through my art I attempt to transmit emotions, to ultimately start a silent dialogue between my artwork and the viewer. How and when did you start to work in a serious manner? I’ve been serious about my artwork since attending art school, but feel that my skills have increased significantly in the past decade — both regarding content as well as on a technical level. I’ve come to the point where I feel I’m truly tapping into my best, most proficient inner-artist. This doesn’t mean I’m always satisfied with my results; I continue to learn and push myself relentlessly. What do you do at the moment? I paint still lifes, going back and forth between series, commissions, and new ideas. I
enjoy participating in juried and invitational exhibitions in art galleries and museums. I love connecting with collectors and art enthusiasts on a personal level. It’s exhilarating when my artwork finds a new home where it is loved. What is the most important thing in a studio for you? The short answer is “creative comfort”. The long answer is ample space, good lighting, plenty of storage room, and good quality equipment and fixtures. I love high ceilings and large windows. What is the nicest compliment you’ve received for your creative work, and from whom? Each time someone tells me they admire my work I’m thrilled, and each time a piece sells I feel it’s an acknowledgment of my creative efforts. However, I received the best compliment a few years ago. During my first solo exhibition in 1991 a friend fell in love with a large painting (a self-portrait) but couldn’t afford it at the time. It never sold and was kept in storage, until 20 years later, when he inquired about it and bought it for its original price. Realizing that someone fell in love with my work and continued thinking about it for decades, is to me, the nicest compliment! What does a regular day look like for you? Every day is different, but in general I wake up late (I’m not a morning person), and handle some deskwork first (such as writing/ answering emails and letters, reading news, scrolling through Facebook looking at art, making phone calls, keeping track of my
calendar events, appointments, and/or making lists). Then I may spend a few hours making thumbnail sketches, setting up compositions, taking photographs, changing and improving digital photos on my computer, updating my website, reading, or doing research. I regularly interrupt this type of studio work with household chores (laundry, grocery shopping, and cooking), as well as doing preparatory work, such as gessoing and sanding my supports. Then, mid-afternoon I have my daily 15 minute Skype call with my best friend who lives in another time zone, while she drinks her morning coffee with me. Mid to late afternoon my energy starts increasing, that’s when I start painting. While I paint I often listen to an audio book, music, an online lecture or documentary. I usually paint between four to six hours, more so if I’m in the zone or have a deadline. Night time is when I feel most alive, inspired, and energized. I break for a late dinner, often going back to painting afterwards unless I have dinner guests. I go to sleep between 2 and 5 a.m. unless I pull an all-nighter. Tell us about your dream project. Every time I start a new painting, it starts as a dream project. I fall in love with a new composition, I want it to continue to excite me, invite me to paint it. This is why I only take commissions when the collector gives me virtual carte blanche, as I don’t want my work to become forcibly attached to others’ ideas. Sometimes, halfway through the painting process the piece disappoints me, then I resolutely axe it and start some185
thing new. I aim for paintings that flow, that motivate me from beginning to end, and make me feel happy, satisfied, and proud once finished. Who is your professional role model/inspiration? I’m inspired by many artists, dead and alive, who create(d) beautiful, striking, or interesting work infused with craftsmanship and palpable skill. Not only artists inspire me though; energetic innovators in many fields stimulate and encourage me — people who use their brainpower, have ground-breaking ideas, and can communicate their thoughts effectively. The list is very long and continues to grow. How would you describe your work style? My work has been described as fine realism, photorealism, symbolic realism, hyperrealism… Labels are important to briefly describe a style during a conversation, yet don’t really define the end result unless one looks at my work — and then the label depends more on the viewer than on my own narrative. My aim is to paint graceful realism that looks nearly photographic from a distance, yet shows my hand when viewed up close, without noticeable brush strokes. At the nose-to-canvas distance I want the viewer to notice the multitude of abstract information my work contains. My subject matter has come to lead a life of its own, and I feel my paintings (in regards to both content and style) often choose me instead of the other way around. Following my instincts allows me to paint slow and not stress about producing, but focus on what is 186
right for me. What inspires you? Beauty, kindness, empathy, intelligence, knowledge. What do you fear most? Dependence. Which is the one thing you can’t live without? Water! What is a happy life to you? The one I’m leading right now! It has a balanced flow of creative work, enhanced by travel and interesting social interactions. A book that has made the most impression in your life? All the books I have read have in some way or other contributed to who I am today, but if I have to choose just one then it is Alice in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass, by Lewis Carroll. Of course, being invited to write my own book about acrylic painting and having it published worldwide has made a huge impact on my life, both on a professional as well as personal level. What is your favorite film? My top three favorite movies are Antonia’s Line (1995), Contact (1997), and The Golden Compass (2007). Who would you like to invite for a dinner and why? As I have many artist and art-world friends whom I talk to on a regular basis, I would
invite people who are knowledgeable in non-artistic areas, such as Sir David Attenborough, Richard Dawkins, Fabiola Gianotti, Lawrence M. Krauss, Vilayanur S. Ramachandran, Temple Grandin, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Steven Pinker — for their fascinating scientific knowledge. And Stephen Fry for his elegant eloquence and wit. If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why? I’ve lived in a number of different countries (the Netherlands, Belgium, Argentina, the US) and traveled extensively. I haven’t found the ideal location yet, and I’m not sure I ever will or that it even exists. My ideal would be to live in a cosmopolitan city with an excellent infrastructure, in a region with a moderate climate, that has easy access to the arts, culture, friends, and an international airport. I can live anywhere as long as I have a comfortable studio!
cial security, high technical skill, popularity or fame, gallery representation, winning awards, getting published, etc. These are all different goals to be reached by different paths, but they are not the same and hardly ever go hand in hand. It is important to realize this in order not to lose focus or be sidetracked by offhand comments from those who do not understand your goals. There’s a huge difference in the daily effort of the artist who, for example, craves recognition through fame, or the artist who works for an independent income, or the one who seeks to create fresh innovative artwork. Check out Lorena awesome website
How do you like to spoil yourself? I love buying and trying out new art supplies, and I love traveling (exploring new places, visiting museums, looking at art, trying new food). What is luxury for you? Solitude. A quiet studio, time to create. Flow. A recommendation for those who think about becoming an artist? My best advice to anyone starting out as an artist is to be profoundly conscious of what kind of success you want to have. Everybody defines success in a different light; success can mean sales, exhibitions, finan187
International Migration â€“ WTF?
In all relationships, messing things up is not a question of “if” but about the very timing of the event which will turn all that’s been built up into a mad circus.
Ohhh, here we go with the moral panic again, right? Except we’re not, we’re not that kind of a magazine. Now, international migration, isn’t that fun? Especially now, considering the madness surrounding reports on a migration wave being called all sorts of bad words you can think of. It’s no surprise that you might be a bit fed up with all of that – this is why this series will suit you. We’re not trying to paint a pretty picture, nor an ugly one – we’ll just go have a chat about all things international migration. Check this out.
Except if you’re Switzerland, then it won’t happen so much. Why? Because when Switzerland communicates as representatives for an idea, they usually believe that idea to be true. That’s the difference. Whereas, in other circumstances involving more than one party on an international level, strategies are being heavily pushed from all sides and all parties. As you know by now, the whole win-win thing isn’t really what anyone is looking for but the rhetoric very much likes to be set in quite a nice tone, a human rights kind of voice.
When shit happens, as the educated call it Now, just as individuals, state representatives really don’t like to admit fucking things up on purpose, not even when they really didn’t mean to do (that much of) a bad job. Usually, during these occasions someone will most likely be fired after being forced to make some sort of statement. 197
That’s the way the story goes, the examples being endless in modern history of international politics. That’s where the issue is, within the policies written in order to benefit one particular place over all else – it’s what foreign policy is about today. As a consequence of making a whole lot of bad international decisions and pulling through with stunningly stupid initiatives, people are today fleeing from their (often destroyed) homes in order to find peace somewhere. Take the story back to the previously mentioned article in this series, and it’s pretty clear that the vast majority of migrants today aren’t refugees nor fleeing from immediate armed conflict. They are fleeing from poverty, from lack of opportunities, lack of education, lack of any reason to stay in a place where they struggle to survive so badly, we should all be ashamed for letting it happen on our planet. In other words, fully legit reasons for getting out of there.
How states F things up badly – An eloquent model having been tried before Now, let’s not start deliberating on who is responsible for all of this because at the 198
end of the day, international issues are so complex and so far up their own asses that it would take forever to try to understand them. Instead, let’s focus on how the route for these people is being restricted by those partly responsible for them fleeing in the first place. Several European countries have not only proposed to imply restriction for immigration, but they’ve actually built walls about it. As in the good old days. Then there’s the paperwork aimed at further restricting the inflow of people if they don’t possess identification documents proving for what reason they are fleeing. Even writing this down here dumbs the internet down a pitch. The idea is that since current citizens aren’t too happy about the immigration as it looks today, some restrictions like this is a good idea. Except this won’t help the people being restricted from entering a country, or the families being sent back into poverty and madness. Furthermore, it won’t at all be a nice marketing thing for the countries insisting on keeping these actions taken in an international context.
World peace and human rights doesn’t rhyme well with “GET THE F OUT OF HERE, PEOPLE!”
The failed integration argument vs. the need for population growth Right-wing extremists and newly self-proclaimed experts often enjoy referring to these measures being taken by countries as a great idea due to the already failed integration projects. In these arguments, statistics on criminal activity, education, employment, religious belief, culture and traditions are all heavily mutilated and chopped into a dish of insisting on prejudice before all reason. Emphasis on the female/male ratio of migrants “pouring in” as they say also seem highly relevant, along with the need to say things like “these men take our women”. Nevertheless, a failed integration is a fact in many cities around the world, in particular due to a total lack of knowledge on what it implies to actually integrate someone. Soft approaches and fear of insulting people along with its opposites insulting everything and everyone, all work together in making this failure possible. Protesting against something bad is a good
idea. However, doing so by insisting on instead implementing the opposite measures of that bad bunch of things is just about politics. It’s a political strategy and it is empty, both in terms of information, knowledge and actual substance of any form. Rhetoric aimed at blaming and distancing doesn’t require much brains, especially when these words are combined with a great timing of induced fear and anger. Which is, by the way, the same thing extremists of all sorts thrive upon. Hm. The need for population growth on the other hand, is a hands-on need that at least Europe has had since the past decade, if not more. The growth declined so badly that scientists actually started to worry about the very existence of Europe as a region. “Now, migrants actually solve that issue pretty easily, simply by showing up – it could be a win-win thing“ Of course, all events involving more than one party are a bit difficult and soon become pretty complex, with many aspects 199
to take into account before making any decisions. Ignoring challenges has never ever been a good idea though, and the reactions often take the shape of extremism. To solve both these extreme tendencies, the building of walls and the restrictions being implemented along with the in some cases failed integration processes, there needs to be an honest intention. A real wish to make that happen. It all starts there, and from this state of mind countries could actually sit down and hold a conversation on the best strategy to integrate and help people. Now, there are a lot of awesome things going on in the international migration context as well, and if you are interested in finding out more about that – be sure to check in here next Tuesday. We hope that you have enjoyed this third article in our series on international migration. Hopefully, you didn’t fall find it dead boring but actually a bit interesting, maybe even a little, you know, fun. Or not. Maybe a little. Did you check out part 1 and part 2? Stay tuned for next week and the fourth and final episode of making International Relations and international migration great again!
Name: Ali Pasandideh Where do you live: Mashhad, Iran Known for: Calligrapher (Modern calligraphy), instructor of Iran calligraphers association. Currently working on: I am currently working on my next solo exhibition and also a few common works. When did you realize that you were going to work with this? After high school, I was looking for a purpose that gives my life a new meaning, so I consulted with one of my teachers. He encouraged me greatly to follow art, because at that time my hand writing was better than my classmates and I was talented in this field. Besides, I was very interested in that. Art was a new challenge for me and it changed my life. If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why? I really like to live in a place where the people respect and interest in my art and also I learn new things and progress in art. How would you describe your creativity? I love poem and I learn it every day. Most of my works are poems and words of big thinkers. I like to show the meaning and concept of these words with my works and share it with art lovers. How and when did you start to work with this in a serious manner? 17 years ago, I started as an professional artist by attending at calligraphy classes. 204
What do you do at the moment projects? I am working on some projects simultaneously but most of my time spends on creating new works. A recommendation for those who think about starting and running a creative business? I just say if you believe your skills and love your work, start doing it. The only thing that you have to do is “try and try” and have hope, the future belongs to you. Tell us how it all started? It started with learning calligraphy and every day after that I was interested more than more, like that little fish that falls in love with the boundless blue of the sea. What is the most important thing in a studio for you? Have silence and peace. What is your favorite film? I love film and watching it every week, I can mention a few films that I love more like Papillon,The Shawshank Redemption, Tombstone... Who would you like to invite for a dinner and why? My mother, because she loves me without any condition. How do you like to spoil yourself? Relaxing vacation with a good friend. What is luxury for you? For me, luxury is simplicity. Anything that gives freshness and vitality to me, is a luxury.
What is the nicest compliment you’ve received for your creative work, and from whom? In My recent solo exhibition, one of visitors wrote in the exhibition notebook, “Your name will remain in my mind forever as a person who reconciled me with my own tradition and past”. What do you fear most? Death, before seeing results of my efforts. What is a happy life to you? A simple life with passion and hope. I think health is the greatest wealth and I am grateful for that.
Which is the one thing you can’t live without? Hope. What inspires you? Nature is a big inspiration for me, also people who never gave up and overcome their adversity. A book that has changed/made the most impression in your life? A book that made the most impression in my life is “Divan of Hafiz”. Connect with Ali via LinkedIn
What does a regular day look like for you? A busy day, create a new work, reading new poems, sports and if possible, meeting some of my artist friends and sharing our knowledge in a good place. Tell us about your dream project? Having exhibition around the world, knowing about cultures and meeting new people. Who is your professional role inspiration? I cannot say just one person or a thing. I am inspired by so many artists, scientists and many great people. How would you describe your work style (academic field or fashion style, or both, or something entirely different)? I am a calligrapher. I am very interested in concept and always like to convey these messages in my works. I like to make people begin to think about my work 205
How to have a good day, Carol
People want to do so many things in a day. Schedules, tasks, lists, ideas, wish usually involved in everyone’s life every single day. Is it even reasonable to p this? How good is it for creativity, productivity and happiness? Planning is great, mostly because it increases the chance of getting anything important in life done. We grow up with watching our parents create all sorts of routines, insisting on going to work every day for five days a week. They introduce us to the whole routine, responsibility and schedule thing as we grow a little older, inviting us to go to kindergarten and then school. In school, we are all intensely acquainted with how schedules work, how demands increase and decrease, what it means to not follow set rules and how goals are turned into practice in order to gain validity. As we grow older, some may understand these frameworks as boring, useless and refuse to follow set rules. Others may not even 214
notice them existing, but taking the circumstances for granted and instead focus on the content. Other kids understand these patterns early on and figure out that although nobody puts much effort in emphasizing them, these organizational ways seem to play a big role in life. Now, we’re all different, preferring to conduct work and organize our days differently, in accordance with the values we’ve created along the way.
What happens with these preferences as we turn into adults? In a professional way, the continuation of
line Webb knows it â€“ Do you?
hes, dreams, demands, unexpected circumstances â€“ all of these things are push so many different expectations on yourself, and how healthy is all of
standards, frameworks and codes of conduct continue. Here, as well, some people may not approve, others may see them as useless, and then there are those understanding the emphasis on frameworks rather than producing content. The way an individual sees the world determines how that person will act and what questions he or she will ask. Those who see the patterns in framing things, organizing work and making sure to follow plans are more prone to be most comfortable in planning and/or leading that same work.
leading themselves and their team. The group of people who disprove of the set rules or regulations, frames and schemes might go for the entrepreneurial way of living and working, having no rules until they themselves create them along the way. Good societies understand these variations and this is why they enable people to make their own choices on what professional career to pursue, while also emphasizing on some common values.
The people who value the content, who see the tasks and possibilities as awesome, will most likely enjoy working in a professional setting where they can get things done, 215
Now, mix all this with having a good day and what do you get? Although people indeed do enjoy freedom in terms of choosing for themselves what to do and how to do it, there are still framework to consider. The current emphasis on exponentially evolving all things professionally is one of them, infiltrating all fields and having a strong impact on people’s professional lives. However great the good intentions argument to push a little bit harder might be, the reality of things is that people aren’t robots and a robot life thus isn’t optimal for people. Human beings are complex and stress messes up their natural way of being awesome, of peak performance and of having a good life. Caroline Webb is awesome and she knows the deal about having a good day, how to make it all happen. In her talk at Talks at Google, she speaks about the importance of having a great day, and especially in a professional environment. Day to day existence, the consciousness, 216
preferences, energy levels, discussions, good communication – all of these things and much more is what this awesome expert speaks about in her video. Have a look and start having an awesome day every day.
Name: Barbara Carcangiu Where do you live: Madrid, Spain. Known for: I’m a graphic designer. Currently working with: I’m currently working in the communication department at BQ, a Spanish company that takes care of designing, selling and retailing smartphones, tablets, e-books, 3d printers and educational robotics. When did you realize that you were going to work with this/in this area? I enrolled at industrial design course because I liked product and interior design. But, during the course, I attended a typography workshop in which we had to measure, rebuild and digitalize an ancient inscription’s font. It was a thorough work, which required a lot of perseverance and method but, as long as I was going deep in the work, I was becoming more passionate and I enjoyed the time I was spending working on that topic. I realized I wanted to feel like that again and again, and so it was, at the end of the day. If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why? I’d like to live in Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands, in the Atlantic Ocean. It may look strange because I come from Sardinia, an Island in Mediterranean Sea and I literally escaped from there because I needed more space to grow. But Lanzarote’s landscapes are awesome, always sunny, it doesn’t rain, there’s no traffic and the food is excellent. 220
How would you describe your creativity? A couple of years ago I realized a little comic book telling this story: Inside a chrysalis, where the Little People come from, the protagonist of the story (me) is floating quietly in the air. Suddenly, the chrysalis collides with something that destroys it. My head, in contact with the air, begins to grow out of control until I overbalance and fall. I can not either get up or move, but the Little People help me to remove from my head things that have weighed it.They make me eat all this things so that my body regains the same proportion. Now I grew up and I can go free from the chrysalis! This story describes in metaphor the stages of my creative process: the initial worries, hard research work, finding the idea and developing it putting the knowledge into practice, and the final result. How and when did you start to work with this in a serious manner? A couple of months after my graduation, a friend of mine who’s a marketing and communication manager, offered me to take care of graphic design in a project aimed to promote a national event that was about to take place in Sardinia. With that first job I started a continuous collaboration as a freelance with Neve Comunicazione agency. What do you do at the moment? I work as a graphic designer at BQ. I mainly take care of design of corporate identity items for online and offline use. In part of my spare time I keep working as a freelance.
A recommendation for those who think about starting and running a creative business? Work hard, be self-critical and always push to the top. Tell us how it all started. It was in 2010, the time of my first internship in Madrid. I never had spent so much time abroad before that and, even if in the beginning I was scared, I became soon excited for this new experience. Three years after I was back in Spain. Two months of study in Barcelona and two months of internship, again in Madrid, again happy to be there. I decided I wanted to live there and, after some job application I had the interview with BQ. Now it’s two years that I’m living and working in this city. What is the most important thing in a workplace/studio for you? Criticism, recognition and people. Those with whom you can confront and whose offer you starting points to keep grow. But, apart from that, what I can’t really do without are headphones, whichever work I am doing. If I need concentration to find an idea or think about a concept, I listen to classical and instrumental music. When the idea is already there and I need to develop it graphically, I listen to an audio book. What is your favorite film? I like Woody Allen movies. My favorite is “Take the money and run”. And then “Annie Hall”, “Zelig”...and Michael Radford’s “The postman”, Roberto Benigni’s “Il mostro”, Radu Mihăileanu’s “Train de vie”, Ascanio Celestini’s “La pecoranera”, then
the movies of Pedro Almodovar, Alejandro González Iñarritu, Wes Anderson....I can’t name just one movie. Who would you like to invite for a dinner and why? I’d like to have a dinner with my girlfriends. At the moment all of us live in different cities, so it’s hard to find a way to meet together. How do you like to spoil yourself? Have a break with tea and home made cookies. What is luxury for you? Tele-transportation. It would allow me to be everywhere I want to be in every moment and, consequentially, I would have more spare time. What is the nicest compliment you’ve received for your creative work, and from whom? “It works”. I can’t quote no one concretely. In our work it’s easy to ear something like “I like it”, “That’s good”, but these expressions don’t have so much value to me. The aim of our projects is to communicate, to convey an idea, a concept to a certain target. Then, sure, aesthetics is important too, but firstly you have to make it work. What do you fear most? Get bored. What is a happy life to you? Night walks. Sudden sprints. Laugh. What does a regular day look like for you? I define my day as regular when, after work, 221
I have enough time to spend doing the things I like: running, making dinner, watching a TV series, reading a book. Tell us about your dream project. I’d like to write a book. Who is your professional role model/inspiration? I’ve got more than one role model. Names change depending on the project and sometimes they’re not strictly related to graphic design world. Since long ago I’ve been inspired by: Isidro Ferrer and Gerd Arntz (graphic designers); Hieronymus Bosch, Hopper and Pierodella Francesca (painters), José Saramago and Haruki Murakami (writers), Vinicio Capossela and Sigur Ros (musicians). How would you describe your work style (academic field or fashion style, or both, or something entirely different)? I think my style is clean, smart and effective. Which is the one thing you can’t live without? Cheese and ice cream, I love them. What inspires you? Long walks. Once I’ve analyzed the project and watched references and images, I shift focus from work and take a long relaxing walk. This allows me to open my mind to creative solutions. A book that has changed/made the most impression in your life? As for the movies, it’s difficult to find just one title. Reading is a passion I had since I was just a little girl. It started with Mark Twain’s 222
“The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”, which I read several times. Now that’s how I run away from everyday life. How can I reduce all to a single title? I’ll give you just a little list: Fëdor Dostoevskij’s “Crime and Punishment”; José Saramago’s “Ensayosobre la ceguera”; Murakami Aruki’s “1Q84”; George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”; Franz Kafka’s “The metamorphosis”; Edwin Abbott Abbott’s “Flatland, romance of many dimensions”; Currently I’m into Zerocalcare’s graphic novels. Visit Barbara’s awesome website
Just end that software program you installed in your head
Oh, how fucked up are you? No, seriously. Imagine a world in which you had fun. All the time. In this world, not only did you have fun but you had fun because your time wasn’t wasted on BS things. You know it, it’s the sort of events that nobody knows why they’re doing, yet they keep doing it. Like reading the news instead of reading books about society. What does a news report tell you? Two things – something happened somewhere, and to which political sympathy the news source subscribe.
Do you remember being a kid and loving all things fun? Running around and looking at the world as this awesome cool place in which everything is interesting. When you met people, it was fun – and you made friends easily, in playing around. When meeting adults, the categorization was pretty easy – either they were cool or not cool at all. The ones with the baby language and speaking to you as though you were a dog were the most pain-in-the-ass-y people, you know them. Now, WTF happened since then?
You couldn’t possibly live without that now, could you? Then, you’ve got applications making sure to keep you updated on events which you don’t really, truly care about. Because, you know, if you actually did care, then you would look someplace else for information. The kind of information where someone has had a good, hard look at what is happening in whichever field you’d like to know more about, and then put it down on a piece of paper. Or any other form of media. Other people’s opinions are great to get involved in as well, but there’s got to be some sort of measure here. Donuts are great, but should you have 200 of them in one sitting? And while we’re at it, are they really that great or do they serve some pur235
pose of yours?
Exposure and distracting yourself from minding your own business Excuses are great in life, but some of them are dressed in weird clothes making you think that everything is normal. A regular life today includes a huge package of bullshit and that often leaves very little to no time to sit down on your favorite chair and reflect a little. The trick is to do this more often – and the usual excuse to not do it is lack of time. Lack of time because it’s being wasted on BS, which you then use as an excuse for not getting anything done. Well, you get a lot done indeed, but none of what you really want to do. Isn’t that the case? This pattern often goes beautifully in line with the way in which to create stress, leading to getting done even less of the boring things, leading to more stress and then finally it’s on. Taking a few days off to get back to normal, maybe sleep a little, while maybe not thinking of work of anything else. “Get that bad shit out and keep the good stuff, that’s the way to go.”
do’s” of life and try to relax. Suddenly, not reading the news 24/7 isn’t such a big deal, nor is it a big deal to know everything about everyone online. That’s what distractions do best. They distract not only from life itself, but from realizing that they are distractions in the first place. Unless you’re a social media researcher, you don’t have a legit reason to be there all day and all night. As with everything else, over-consuming whatever you think it is that gets you going won’t be getting you anyway other than to that state of continuous, useless excusing. Excuse from not living life, excuse for ignoring your real thoughts, dreams and ideas – all of that. Throw it the F out right now.
Upgrading this baby and making sure you’ve got the latest software on By now, most people having been involved with any form of technology lately are pretty in line with upgrading various systems on a regular basis. You upgrade your smartphone, your computer, your tablet, music player, applications and so on. Even your TV software is being constantly improved and upgraded, and nobody’s bitching much about that.
Being in that fully and completely fed up state of mind may not feel great, but it does one great thing and that is inviting you Yet, the most important machine we’ve got to get off the “have to’s” and the “must is left all alone – your brain. Yes, it gets some 236
action as new information is gathered, as reasoning happens and as physical exercise occurs. As new input is given, through reading awesome books, watching a movie or having a chat with someone, the brain gets some motivation to process things and connect new dots. Our old memories are constantly evolving, fusing with new data and getting rearrange as time impacts the level of relevance for an event, behavior or simple thought.
and habits they’ve caught along the way. Get that bad shit out and keep the good stuff, that’s the way to go. That’s how you get to the upgrade, by removing the crap code and installing new, fresh numbers. If what you do doesn’t fulfill the way in which you’d really want to live and do things, then that’s argument enough to change it. Install a new software.
Sometimes, this little asshole likes to normalize that which is not normal, despite being well aware that in the long run, a certain behavior might prove to not be great at all. What’s up with your current system? Did you have a look? Has it been upgraded lately or did it just get along with new, convenient habits and ways of living? If it’s the latter, then you might want to join the club because there are millions of people with the same old software. Just as adults were once kids, they might clearly remember the shift they went through, even the very moment which got them from the state of “kiddo” and into adulthood. That same type of big shift has happened quite some times since back then, yet those aren’t recognized as being as relevant. Although highly impactful, the shifts in software upgrades with huge faults in how to deal with the variations of life, we’ve all done it. Some realize that what’s wrong isn’t they themselves but the sets of values 237
María Díaz Perera
Name: María Díaz Perera Where do you live: Gijón (Asturias, Spain). Known for: Illustrator. Currently working as: Freelance illustrator. When did you realize that you were going to work with this/in this area? As I finished my Arts School studies. If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why? I love the city where I live, Gijón, which is a beautiful town in northern Spain. Because I was born here and because I love living by the sea. How would you describe your creativity? I feel very inspired by music, by the people around and many fine colleagues. I love turning all those images and colors into drawings and could not possibly imagine something better to do with what I know. How and when did you start to work with this in a serious manner? About ten years ago I embarked on a very exciting project with another artist. After that I realized illustration was my sole and true vocation. I have every sense been dedicated to my current activity. What do you do at the moment? I have just taken part in a exhibition on Shakespeare. I am currently working on some editorial projects. A recommendation for those who think about starting and running a creative business? 240
Fight for your dreams and invest loads of passion in whatever you do. Tell us how it all started. I have always been drawing, since i was a child. When I ended studying I decided I would turn my hobby into my job. It has always been there. What is the most important thing in a workplace/studio for you? Music, room and a lot of light. What is your favorite film? Impossible question! Who would you like to invite for a dinner and why? Patti Smith. Because I love her work, I deeply admire her and because I would love hear all the things she still has to tell. How do you like to spoil yourself? A nice glass of wine and a good chat will do. What is luxury for you? To make a living out of what I love. What is the nicest compliment you’ve received for your creative work, and from whom? Someone, no matter who, who takes the time to drop you a line praising your work is a big reward, truly. What do you fear most? Disease. What is a happy life to you? A one with my friends and family around.
What does a regular day look like for you? I use to wake up early, play some records and just draw. In the evening I usually have a walk and meet some friends. Tell us about your dream project. A project I have with a good friend on some of her beautiful texts. Who is your professional role model/inspiration? Patti Smith! How would you describe your work style (academic field or fashion style, or both, or something entirely different)? I think I am very versatile, though some say I drift between naif and pop. Which is the one thing you can’t live without? Drawing. What inspires you? My parents and my friends. A book that has changed/made the most impression in your life? I love poetry and good fiction but... Impossible question! Check out María’s awesome website
Are you an open book without knowing about it? A human being is a complex set of thoughts, views, ideas, memories, connections, biases, preferences, knowledge, skills, fears, loves and many other things. Individuals subscribe to some views based on what is currently seen as awesome by the group, apply some behaviors for the same reason and despise others. All of this has to do with choices and circumstances, sometimes even pure chance â€“ but what do we do with all of those underlying views that arenâ€™t OK to say, show and tell? Â 250
If everyone’s a book, how carefully do we choose the words by which it is written? How much of the book would be covered by awesome things, great memories, progress, love, laughs, new friendships and pursuing dreams? And, how many chapters would be written on fear, prejudice, suspicion, disbelief, arrogance, ego and self-deception? Now, that’s about as close to a verbal bitch-slap as one could get. A lot of thoughts and inner conversations aren’t too positive. Not only that, but they are usually limited within a comfort zone, with sentences and concepts being elaborated only as much as feels comfortable, never to that state of unpleasant, not-knowing-the-answers-phase. We do like to know all the answers. Human beings really like to think that they know the answers, to the level of truly believing that they don’t even need to reason on certain aspects of themselves. Some things are just there as a given, right?
“Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” ― Henry David Thoreau
Maybe in fairytales, but what happens IRL?
IRL, there are other people around us who reason in a totally different way, whose views are ran through other perspectives and whose biases have formed through other cultural influences, traditions and values. As we’re being exposed to differing values like never before, our own world views are being challenged. Suddenly, someone has to admit that all of those things who we saw as implicit, maybe isn’t. Whoopsie. After that happens, the next phase depends on which one out of two choices a person decides to go for. Either to research more about this thing, about what a person really is and isn’t, or to ignore all of that fully and go blindly into a stronger belief in all of the previously mentioned things being true. As you can see, this is a little, well, painful. Both choices come with benefits, hence people aren’t automatically invited to choose the one over the other.
Inconsistency is an asshole, that’s why nobody likes it We’re all social animals, that’s a fact. We like to have things in common with the people we are surrounded by, and dislike anything threatening this imaginary security 251
of ours. The problem with being exposed to other influences that aren’t a threat but should be since that’s the way the whole group security story goes, this creates confusion. Instead of yet again going for understanding, it’s easier to crawl back to imagination and hold on to it as hard as possible. In interaction, which nobody gets away from, this imagination shines through. We tend to give away hints about how we really feel, without admitting it to ourselves but fully visible to everyone else. In a desperate search to unify something, people instead alienate themselves.
If you don’t share someone’s values, or if that person doesn’t share yours, is it such a big deal? Should we all pretend that we do, or should we go on and start a conversation about it? The current fear of having an opinion, and even worse – to hold a conversation about it, is not great for anyone. What it leads to is suppressing fear, anger, and it breeds misunderstandings and prejudice. Do we really need more of that crap on this planet? No, no we don’t.
You’re one person, that’s what’s up
Simply admitting that cultures are different and therefore, by nature of the concept culture, some values will be different as well, is a great start. Followed by asking questions both to the holder of that other culture, but also to yourself – what’s your real opinion on that culture (or value) and why do you hold this view?
If you’re an open book, like most of us are, then how about reading it yourself? How fun is it that everyone around you has understood things about you which you yourself haven’t, simply because you chose to close your eyes about it?
“Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny.”
Open them and then go figure yourself out. 252
― Mahatma Gandhi
Are you afraid of particular cultural trends, traditional values and the influence those might have on yours? Do you believe that there’s a hierarchy among cultures, and if so, why the F would you think that? Is it so, that many of these questions are irrelevant, because what you’d really like to know is if this influence will have a negative impact on your views and ideas? If that’s the case, then the story gets even better. Do you really believe in the values to which you subscribed, if the fear of being influenced by others is so ridiculously huge? Could that inconsistency thing be haunting you a bit again, hm?
Be an open book, but read it yourself too Self-investigating is tough shit, but you should still do it – it’s worth it Thoughts and reactions shape each other, both by external and internal influence. Both can be reasonable and make sense, but they can also be pretty fucked up, irrational, a state of commonly accepted psychosis to put it nicely. The most important thing is to start with yourself, choosing the right way for you to evolve and feel great – which isn’t necessarily the easy way. But it’s worth it.
Name: Rei Ramirez Where do you live: Miami Beach, FL. Known for: Rei Ramirez aka Urban-Organikz Currently working with: Studio works and some Murals in Miami When did you realize that you were going to work with this/in this area? I’ve always had an interest in the creative field, like Graphic Design, which i received a Bachelors for in 2003 at Art Institute Fort Lauderdale, but after I began painting slowly developed a passion to paint more and do more hands on creations. If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why? Somewhere relatively close to the beach, I find great inspiration and meditative near the ocean and nature. How would you describe your creativity? I have been building different inspirations, from comic book art and fantasy art, to graphic design, typography and recently graffiti. Also. the street art movement all this inspires me to create. Also, nature and people. How and when did you start to work with this in a serious manner? January 2015, I came to realization on my way to a new job I had gotten for a corporate advertising, that I want to apply all my time into painting and visual arts. I then invested my capital and time into a private studio. 256
What do you do at the moment? Graphic Design for main client, and occasional mural work and then the remaining of my time is studio work on my own pieces with acrylics and oil on wood or canvas. A recommendation for those who think about starting and running a creative business? Stay productive, stay positive, make connections. Stay inspired, be mindful of social media, use it as a tool and stay away from comparisons to other artists through it. Tell us how it all started. Ever since childhood I’ve looked to be creating small drawings of animals, orcas, dolphins and sharks. Then I began drawing comic book heroes like Superman, Lone Ranger etc. Then, into my adolescent years, I began drawing words and graffiti ideas although never really got into actual graffiti art and pieces etc. But I think what really stayed with me through my teenage years was my fondness with comic book art, and fantasy art like Frazetta. I became an avid collector at the time, of different comic books of the 1990’s. Spiderman, X-Men, Hulk, etc. I was really drawn to the comic book artists of the time, such as Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Eric Larsen, and especially Todd McFarlane. What is the most important thing in a workplace/studio for you? Positive creative energy, and lighting. What is your favorite film? Too many to name: Lord of the Rings part 1, The Professional, Godfather, Predator 1, The
Big Blue, Boyhood, those come to mind. Who would you like to invite for a dinner and why? Leonardo DiCaprio, I would like to ask him about all his work on saving the environment, and his sources of inspiration. How do you like to spoil yourself? I love the outdoors, so a nice trip somewhere in nature. What is luxury for you? Living free from worries and doing what I love which is creating. What is the nicest compliment you’ve received for your creative work, and from whom? When someone really feels my work and tells me to keep it up.
tion? Mainly other artists, philanthropists, people that have made a difference and have not let their failures bring them down. Which is the one thing you can’t live without? Creating. What inspires you? Nature, people, travel, places, music, other artists. A book that has changed/made the most impression in your life? The alchemist, The Artists Way. Check out Rei’s awesome website
What do you fear most? Losing my creative drive, my loss of inspiration. What is a happy life to you? Free, creating, and having friends and loved ones around. What does a regular day look like for you? My days as of this point in my career, start with some freelance graphic design work for clients, then in the afternoon and evening it’s studio time. Tell us about your dream project. Travel around the world creating art weather thru murals or galleries and making relationships. Who is your professional role model/inspira257
Featured expert article
Refugee rewind â€“
Finding the way back home to Sarajevo.
Memories, stories and the relationship between wars and refugees.
By Zorana VukomanoviÄ‡
The following article is a real-life story of someone reflecting on time, a war, refuge and politics. The aftermath, what has changed, what is the same, what has been forgotten – all of it to which there’s a reaction. Sometimes it’s crystal clear and other times it’s as thick as a midnight fog. In other words there’s a state of dreaming, an unreal place unfolding right infront of you. The Creativeroom4talk editor-in-chief experienced the war in Bosnia in the early 1990s. She was a child, and this experience has shaped her whole life. A highly personal story, a sensitive subject and deep emotional connection to what happened in Sarajevo. Read on.
Being back in that apartment of memories and shooting rockets Suddenly, I find myself watching it all – the sofas, the door, the bookshelf. On the way to the apartment, I got a few books from the local book shop, and I kept them inside that little paper bag along with the receipt. Not because of any logical reason, but because they might disappear. When me and my boyfriend arrived at the apartment he started to organize around the living room and stacking up the newly aquired books on to the bookshelf. “It will look more homely” he said. At that moment I thought to myself “why on earth are you putting those books on the shelf, they will turn to ashes anyway”. Just as it did the last time me and my mom were in Sarajevo. The rockets heading towards our apartment, exploding and turning almost everything to powder – books, memories and neighbours. I realised that my thinking process was a state of mind of an traumatized individual and I kept it to myself rather than exploding at my boyfriend, risking an awkward conversationI really didnt feel I needed, or wanted. Everything inside the apartment is new now, but I can still remember that building burn. Being away from it, throwing time in a space of vacuum, only to be brought back in another dimension to watch the place of today – that’s beyond surreal. The only thing missing is the personality, the lack of charisma, a complete absence of a soul. It’s mine, yet it’s not mine, not even the slightest. As I went inside the hallway of the building a day after arriving, one of two elevators 268
had broken down. A natural reaction from a young traumatized lady? Call the elevator-fixing- people. The second natural reaction was making sure people, who are waiting for the other elevator to arrive, know about my phone call. Completely natural. Suddenly, I’m there as a fellow citizen, a fellow human being staying there, living there, existing there. Back to the books – isn’t that a mad reaction? It wasn’t just that they would disappear if my boyfriend took them out of the brown little bag and onto the bookshelf, but rather that they would burn. I was right back in the 1990s. Reacting introvertly as a child in the middle of a war on one hand, but contemplating the whole situation as an adult on the other. If that’s not a great sci-fi time traveling movie, I don’t know what is.
How to start talking about it all Heavy breathing, lost in time and space, completely carried away by the surreal event of having been caught up in a place where so many memories were made. In the name of war. How is it possible to use the written word in such a way so as to describe to someone, who hasn’t experienced a war, how it feels? How, 20 years after its end, being back in that location makes you carried away, shocked, messed up. Experiencing a war, in a capital city in Europe in the 1990s is something I haven’t heard much about. And, it’s not as though I
haven’t read about it a lot, because I have. I Googled the living shit out of themes such as children and war experience, how children are affected by wars, how personalities are shaped by it and how they should have managed those memories in order to turn out normal. That was all I ever really wanted, to be normal. It was just a segment of it all. Somehow, it all naturally went on to be about understanding stress and what traumatic experience in particular does to the brain. But all of that was research conducted on adults. If there’s a difference? Yes. Yes, there is. The difference between adults and kids is huge in terms of knowledge, maturity, understanding and consciousness, so all those papers would have worked out just fine as guidelines if I had been an adult during that war. But I wasn’t, lucky me.
The background story – Say hi to a little refugee Born and (supposed to be) raised in Sarajevo, I managed to live the first years of my life there, along with my mom. I ate cake like a madman, I took ballet classes (in diapers) and I had a swearing repertoire an experienceed heavyweight sailor would envy. My mom used to take me out to the surrounding mountains on weekends, and although I have no memories of that, it seems as though it was a pretty nice kind of life. As was kindergarten during the weekdays. Grandpa lived nearby as well, and people in the neighborhood were awesome –
some always carried candy in their pockets so that the little piggy (read: me) running around could have a snack. The last part I do remember, as playing a mini-keyboard along with some other kids at home. There was a newsstand right outside the building, and I would climb up there at times to buy gum – those round colorful ones packed in a line. Moving from a warzone and into a place where there’s been peace for the past 200 years is quite a transition right there. As a child, none of that is really important – what’s important is the smaller things. As the sound of a normal place, where bombs and shootings aren’t a daily sound experience, and where silence doesn’t mean that a missile is about to hit something nearby. The other small thing is the pretty amazing thing of having food on the table. As a newly arrived kid, I ate a lot, as soon as someone put food in front of me, all of it. I even placed my hands in such a way so as to protect that food from being taken by someone else. However irrational, these are all instinctive things, having starved during the two years in that war does that to people. As a kid, I went through a substantial amount of discoveries in terms of triggers. Certain sounds, certain drastic physical movements, certain words and themes – all of it caused a physical reaction. Not to speak of the nightmares, they were many. Visuals and sounds combined, resulting in waking up completely sweaty and in deep fear – brought right back to the war. On a weekly basis, this was what happened, accompanied by a set of panic attacks in the waking state. As I grew up, I slowly learned that I’m a for-
eigner, but it wasn’t until my early 20s when it actually occurred to me that not only am I a foreigner but a refugee as well. As stupid and obvious as it may sound to people who haven’t experienced anything close to a war and flight, looking for appropriate names isn’t really a priority. You flee, yes. You run as far away from chaos as you possibly can, yes. You seek a safe spot and ask for permission to stay, yes. But you don’t sit there and philosophize about whether you’re a refugee or not – you look at it in terms of being safe or not being safe. Sweden meant being safe.
The current refugee crisis and puzzling the puzzle As this current refugee crisis got media attention last year, thousands of TV interviews and reports were made on the subject of people fleeing wars and conflicts. I followed and still do follow these happenings, but back then something happened as I saw a news report on the topic. It was about the people arriving in Serbia in their struggle to make it into the EU zone. The visuals covered a park near the bus station in the capital city of Serbia – Belgrade. Since it was spring and pretty OK weather, people who had a minute could take a seat in this park and sleep a little, have some water, s they waited for continuing their journey. In this TV report, there was this little girl who couldnt be older than 9. Furious and in perfect english, she screamed and asked the reporters and everyone, why they simply watched people die and flee and why nobody cared about them. She said she was 272
tired, fed up, and then stopped talking. Instant connection was what happened to me in Sarajevo. Although she was a little older than when I got out of Sarajevo, this girl was an immediate trigger once again bringing all memories right back on to the surface of my existence. A little over 20 years after my own experience, this little girl lived through the same terror, fear and despair.
The shocking truth of today It’s almost impossible to describe. The amount of suppressed emotions during my upbringing in Sweden, directly relating to the war memories and aftermath of it all. Whenever something positive happened, as being given a bright new pink bike with white wheels (oh yes, imagine that), a normal reaction would be joy and happiness. But for me, it wasn’t. Quite the opposite. The reaction was suppression of those feelings, in order not to open the Pandora’s Box with stress, memories, fear and total helplessness. As a teenager, I remember being very angry, furious about everything. That was the only emotion which guaranteed not to open that mythological box of subjective truth, so I simply stuck with a safe choice. At least, that was what I thought it was. I hated everything and every single person from former Yugoslavia. I hated the language, the old rock songs, the food, the mentality, the jargon and the customs. Everything. On top of that, after a few years the feeling of being completely alone and little was next to unbearable.
Nobody shared my experience, there was nobody to talk to, nobody to ask for help. I even thought that, those who had survived the war as well, and had continued to live in that same city, were probably handling it all much better. The thoughts went something like this: At least they were together, people with shared traumatic experience, they could talk to each other and share things with each other, comfort each other and then move on. The giant (figuratively speaking) bitch slap I received in Sarajevo proved me wrong on that one.
A very local question of recovery Depending on which street you’re talking about, the level of recovery from war varies hugely. In some places, as the one where I lived, was on the front line. Naturally, this is a street where people who are living today can feel that the war, even though its over, is still in the atmosphere and there’s not even a little recovery happening for those people, not-one-bit.com Despite 20 years since the war ended, the memories are open scars. To the shame of humanist values but to the joy and happiness of political leaders in the region. Why focus on reconciliation and creating a better future for all people, when you could politicize the most painful experience in their lives and abuse it all. ...but that’s the story of the Balkans, a whole other story.
sors and young adults running NGOs, writingbooks and attending conferences.
What is there to say? Personal memories and collective future progress There’s probably not many people over the age of 26 who don’t remember the catastrophic war in Bosnia. We all carry deep scars and a huge distrust for the political system and its elite currently gaining fat money here in the Balkans. There’s no solidarity between ethno-religious groups as in the case of political representatives from all corners. As disgusting and beyond repulsive as this situation is, and as the current brain drain and youth drain is happening in the whole region – those who stay aren’t letting any trigger-happy fascist SOB repeat what they did the last time. Is there hope? Yes, and this is thanks to the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina. They have been hijacked by political authorities for quite some time and as it seems from over here – they are getting a bit tired of that. Their personal tragedies will be terrible memories carried with them for the rest of their lives. The amazing diversity among people, cultures, customs, religious beliefs and traditions is what makes Bosnia and Herzegovina beautiful and it is what could give this country the most important basis for building peace. As in true peace.
However, many people are doing a fantastic job in bringing back sanity to this region in general and Bosnia in particular, profes273
Did you hear about the Pilot enabling direct, live translation?
How amazing would it be to have a live chat with someone, IRL, simultaneously speaking two totally different languages? While understanding each other thanks to a teeny little tech device translating every word you say, live? Imagine the possibilities – talking without borders, wouldn’t that be awesome? If you think so, you’ve got to check this out.
For a new product like this, there’s really no need for small talk. What would you say if someone told you that you’ll be able to have conversations with interesting people from all over the world, while you both speak to each other in different languages? You would smile politely and slowly walk away from there, hoping that this mad guy wouldn’t follow you. Now, the writer is a girl and the product does exist IRL, it’s a real thing. The Waverly Labs are to thank for this awesome possibility, soon enabling people to chat endlessly without worrying about the language thing. “The Pilot is the world’s first smart earpiece which translates between users speaking different languages.” – Waverly guys
Human beings have evolved communication tools since forever, to enable interaction and to advance the way through which we get to know each other. Some of the revolutionizing products and technologies were not only changing the way of interaction physically, but also in terms of time. Imagine having to send a letter to ask someone if they’d be up for a coffee next Thursday? No. Thanks. Recently, as the internet came along, yet another revolution in communications was initiated. As this has led to even quicker and easier tools for communication and interaction, it also emphasized serious issues that people could ignore in the way-back-times. 279
uct and technology soon, it will be more than awesome to follow the potentially huge potential disruption in the communications field.
The language factor. Sure, translation tools got online, freshly updated and upgraded to translate website texts pretty smoothly (hey, at least you get the point when you read them) but as we also got the opportunity to chat live with people from all over the world – that technology wasn’t enough. Even more so, the IRL issues of communicating with people when traveling remained, although online translation enabled a somewhat easier basic interaction process. Add applications for smartphones to that mixture, and the process of interaction became even simpler. “The Pilot is designed for the international traveler and includes a second earpiece (used together for wireless music streaming), a battery charger for additional charges on the go, and an accompanying app to download and toggle languages in the earpiece.”
Important to note is that these guys didn’t want to create yet another piece of audio tech, but reasoned in a completely different way as they decided to develop their product, stating “Other ‘hearable’ companies are developing smart earpieces capable of fitness tracking and audio enhancement, but we’re committed to bridging the gap between language barriers.” It’s potentially a chat without borders – can you imagine the potential awesome outcome from this technology? Not only from people who like to travel, but for creativity in general, for international relations and for building relationships with people. The potential is beyond huge. This is awesome, be sure to follow these guys – we sure will. *(And by the way, this is not a sponsored article - we just love this thing!)
However, there are still some big questions to figure out, among them the real-time conversation translation, the accuracy of translating slang and the potential misunderstandings when something gets translated in a F up manner. These guys seem to have thought about this and as they are launching their new prod-
Name: Edite Amorim Where do you live: Porto, Portugal Known for: Trainer, speaker, storyteller, entrepreneur, writer, traveller, curious. Working on Applied Positive Psychology, through workshops and talks about teamwork, positive leadership, creativity, among other things. Being in a “drift-mode”, permanently travelling and looking for encounters and life experiences that can lead to meaningful life stories. Using these travel experiences both at work and at writing. Currently actual with: Owner and Coordinator of THINKING-BIG, specialized in the co-design of tailored training projects for companies and education institutions, focused on Applied Positive Psychology themes and using group dynamics and storytelling. When did you realize that you were going to work with this? It has been a work-in-progress,a natural consequence of who I am: a mix of interests between body (Expression) and mind (Psychology) where Creativity has been the key. Professionally speaking it started in 2004, as soon as I graduated. I had this clear idea of how to integrate the two passions mentioned above. So I invited a good friend 284
of mine to be my partner, and we created a project together: Jogos de Corpo e Voz (Body and Voice at Play), that lasted for 7 years (till September 2011). With this project I found my way of working with these two areas and use creativity both as a tool and a goal to be promoted. If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why? Moving is quite easy for me. I think that the places I’ve been living have been depended basically on my needs in different life periods. I’ve called many places “home”, such as Barcelona (Spain), Limerick (Ireland), Malmö (Sweden) and now Porto (Portugal), my hometown. But I guess that, as long as there was a nice excuse to go and live anywhere else, I would do it. It would only have to be a place where I could walk to most of the places (walking is fundamental for me) and I could feel safe doing it. Right now, Porto is a great living experience for me! How would you describe your creativity? “One idea every 3 seconds”; “collaboration with different people and fields”; “organized craziness”; “smooth restlessness”, “thinking big and feeling more”. Usually, once I have an idea for a project, the final result already appears in my mind, in a way that I can already see its general final shape (physical or theoretical). After that, my process is to work on the needed steps to make it real, to make it happen.
I would say creativity for me it’s not properly a process, but a way of living my life: inventing days and ways.
“serious themes” were being developed in such a personalized way made the word slowly spread.
How and when did you start to work with this in a serious manner? Since my first project, Jogos de Corpo e Voz, I realized that the mix of Psychology (the knowledge about Human behavior) and Expression (creative group dynamics through which people could interact) was a powerful combination.
I have started working with very different contexts, from a small company in Lisbon wanting to align their vision, to an International company’s office in Moscow, developing their leadership skills based on strengths.
At the beginning the project was focused on children, and my main concern was on the promotion of their well-being, enhancing the best in them, changing the usual “problem focus” into an “abundance focus”. Eventually, in 2010, I realized that this approach from Psychology actually had a name – Positive Psychology – and I started applying its knowledge into different contexts, still using my own dynamic and creative way. I started working with companies and Educational institutions, taking theory into practice. That was the creation of THINKING-BIG, my own brand, in 2011. Each project was showing amazing results. Companies were really satisfied with this approach. We were working on how they could improve their leadership skills, the atmosphere in their teams, the ability of their departments to question the obvious and start creating differently. The engaging atmosphere in the groups and the fact that
What do you do at the moment? My professional life is currently divided in two parts: 70% of my time is dedicated to THINKING-BIG: managing it and working on the workshops and talks that I teach around the world, especially in Barcelona. The tasks are as diverse as meeting clients; co-designing the projects with them according to their needs; developing the projects and running the workshops. I also work as a teacher for two Spanish Universities (Barcelona and Coruña), teaching the Creativity Master class for their Master’s students. In 2015 I’ve developed an online course called “Creative thinking: opening perspective and thinking big” (a new challenge for me) that I now coordinate online, replying to students’ questions and updating information. The other 30% of my time is dedicated to writing articles to online magazines (Fenther.Net, PANTA, LeCool Porto, among others), to my own writing projects and on my Medium account.
I write mostly about what happens on my drifts: encounters, learning from others, special places and the connection between those aspects and my area of expertise. My life has also the “dance” department. Thought I don’t assume myself as a “dance teacher”, I have been facilitating Body Expression sessions, based on Contact Improvisation for some time. Dance, improvisation and free movement are a big part of my expressive path and it influences a lot the way I dynamically work with training groups. A recommendation for those who think about starting and running a creative business? Well, I guess I would above all recommend what I keep saying to myself every day while managing my own creative business: follow authenticity and coherence. Adapt and adjust, of course, but follow and keep your core creative sparkle and voice. Besides that, I would say openness. Openness to collaborations, to learn from others, to share your work, your ideas and your doubts. Persistence, ability to laugh about oneself and huge faith and hope, are also very useful tools for bad days. And bad days happen a lot, so these things will eventually come handy! Tell us how it all started. I think I was very lucky to have a clear idea about my wish or “mission” since the beginning. I just had to find the way of imple286
menting it, of putting it into action. I have been working for 12 years already, following that initial sparkle, which means a lot to me. Many things have changed along the way, but not the core of my work, that focus on creating a better world, on focusing on the best aspects inside ourselves, on the ability to go further, to find more, to be more. Feeling more, all the time. At the beginning it was really hard and challenging because I was young and knew nothing about business, or the amount of resilience I would need for the process. But I have been learning immensely, and I’ve been enjoying so much the discovery of all those different worlds. Actually, all the different things I’ve done and learnt in my first project are now the basis for my current personal business. The spark continues! What is the most important thing in a workplace/studio for you? Working very often at coffices (cafe + offices), I mostly need a good Wi-Fi connection, a place with good warm light or direct sun, a wooden table and an infusion. I always use paper, so my journal, some colorful post-its and a black pen are also mandatory. What is your favorite film? I love documentaries that take me to different real lives. Wim Wenders’ work is a nice example about it. Recently, “The salt of the Earth” had a good impact on me, since it took me again to the importance of
people. People are, indeed, the “salt of the Earth” and it is inspiring to see how, despite all the terrible things that we are capable of, there is still a hidden and powerful hope among us. Who would you like to invite for a dinner and why? A very powerful heartless person. I’ve always been very curious to understand these kind of people, so maybe over a nice dinner I could learn more about it. And maybe give him/her a nice dessert, to sooth his/her heart. How do you like to spoil yourself? Getting the nicest paper items (travel journals, postcard collections, special paper for letters). Traveling to visit my important people. What is luxury for you? Having a big empty studio, with wooden floor and cozy lights in which I can dance, dance, dance. What is the nicest compliment you’ve received for your creative work, and from whom? A Brazilian good friend and colleague of mine who told me once: “You are good at panning for good people.” What do you fear most? Losing my physical health or anything that would mean cutting my wings to fly freely around. What is a happy life to you? A life in which I can improvise most of my days, in which I have quality time for my
people, and where I can freely explore pieces of the world about which I am curious. (And if I can dance, read, color books and walk for hours it would also be nice). What does a regular day look like for you? I wake up early, I have some time for my body (stretching, Yoga), I have a good breakfast with porridge and fruit while reading and then I go out for a coffee, where I already start to work. No matter which country or weather outside, these are the usual common things in my days. Then, it depends: meeting with clients; a plane trip; a morning of trainings or conferences; a day spent at the computer organizing information, systematizing readings, contacting people, or writing. In the process I have to find time for balanced meals, a long walk around (urban walks are common in my days), and writing a postcard or a letter to a friend, where I relax and connect. Encounters – may them be professional or personal – usually have priority on my personal schedule. Reading and writing usually close my days. Tell us about your dream project. Traveling/drifting around the world for a year following spontaneous encounters, allowing time and space for each one. Focusing on each encounter’s way of showing the strong and beautiful power of humankind and registering all that through 287
writing. Focusing, for each encounter, on the beauty of what still makes us humans, reinforcing hope. Who is your professional role model/inspiration? I cannot say I have one specific role model… Different people in different aspects have been inspiring me. My Argentinian teacher and friend Ruben Segal has had an important influence on the way I perceive and develop my work with groups; some of my friends who have their own businesses inspire me with their way of managing and developing them; some researchers on areas that are difficult to seem “researchable” (such as Brené Brown on Vulnerability, Barbara Fredrickson on Love, Helena Marujo and Luis Miguel Neto on Positive Nations) inspire me to keep working as a practioner in these areas… These are some of them. How would you describe your work style (academic field or fashion style, or both, or something entirely different)? Practitioner and passion-follower. Which is the one thing you can’t live without? Paper to write (a notebook, post-its and postcards) and music. What inspires you? Anything. Mostly people, random people. A movement, a colorful door, a familiar smell, a cozy café, a nicely written text, a powerful photography… 288
When I am specifically looking for inspiration I usually use two specific things: music and powerful images (both artistic photography and photojournalism make my mind fly higher). Some books that have changed/made the most impression in your life? Steinbeck’s “The grapes of wrath” for its wonderful focus on Humanity. Pina Bausch’s biography, for her approach to the Creative process based on “feeling more”. “Flow”, by M. Csikszentmihalyi, for bringing scientific basis to a life that’s worth living. “Nobility of Spirit: A Forgotten Ideal”, by Rob Riemen for its powerful approach on the theme that gives the name to the book. “The other”, by Ryszard Kapuściński, for its simple and direct approach to the importance of the others in our individual and collective path. And finally I would list any book from two Portuguese authors; José Saramago and Tolentino de Mendonça, who have opened doors to broader perspectives over life. Check out Edite’s awesome website
International Migration â€“ WTF?
So this is a huge question, especially if you have a look at current political debates in Europe. Regardless of the main reason for the debates, each one will eventually turn out to be about the migration issue. The current media hype on international migration and all that this huge field includes is pretty impressive. As though this is the very first time in history someone decided to move from one place to another, having a reason for it and actually trying to make it happen. “At the end of the day, it’s about asking people in what kind of world they would like to live.” What a wild thought, right? In combination with this amazingly under-educated form of reporting, there’s also a wide range of non-media houses parties reporting (hey, that’s what they call it) on what is currently known as being a very big deal – the migration issue. Except for the teeny detail of selectively choosing a delicate, biased and severely superficial way of creating stories around this subject, they’re doing a pretty great job. Oh, except for the Armageddon propaganda linked to the current migration
parties placing the (carefully selected) migration questions as the core issue. waves to Europe. Oh, and, except for the hysterical fears of these new people taking over their culture and country, threatening everything that is ours and promoting only their ways of living. Which is, of course, primitive, dangerous, stupid and beneath every Western standard. Low-quality.
Not only that, but these folks have also created completely new connections between concepts of economy, policy, culture and society – adding some schizophrenia to make sense of the picture that only they are able to see. If it’s too much, even dangerous? We’ll have to wait and see, but currently it seems as though things are balancing on the verge of insanity.
Is the migration propaganda getting out of hand? As noted, the past two years in particular, the madness surrounding how migration affects the western world and Europe in particular, has seen no limits. Relations between certain countries in this region have worsen and in general, there’s a slightly more angry tone in the regional conversation. Even mainstream media has begun to flirt with the more right-oriented ideas, making a whole new face for total embarrassment, educating their viewers on how to think like a moron. Some groups have seen this as the perfect timing for establishing political 304
Mad thoughts and crazy concepts – What is happening in Europe? As right-wing parties have understood the importance of being fun, staying active on social media and using these channels in combination with effective marketing strategies, they have managed to turn some people in believing what they have to say. Not only is it ridiculous, but it poses quite a big security threat in this part of the world. One deeply fascinating example of this
is the current preference of talking about integration and immigration as being interchangeable. Which it isn’t but hey, who cares about facts? This polarizing strategy will most likely be held accountable for creating conflicts instead of solving current issues, a set of skills nobody should even consider to be proud of. The growing appeal of these patterns in thought has influenced the European overall political atmosphere, currently portrayed by the various debates on this topic. Europe consists of a bunch of migrating peoples, so they’ve got plenty of experience on how to manage the situation. Although being a bumpy ride, there are a few things pointing to the awesome parts of the European values and beliefs, creating hope and positivity in a region that really needs it. As fantastic as ideal worlds and fairytales may be, sticking to reality is useful when dealing with all things international migration. Relationships between countries, not only states but also corporations, institutions, banks, international memberships, strategic alliances and all things relationship messes things up sometimes.
The current (constructive, awesome) things that are happening According to the World Migration Report (2015), “The present report highlights the links between well-governed migration and well-managed development. This, in turn, shows that restrictive policies on migration and urbanization can be damaging for growth and development for both origin and destination cities and countries in a globalized context.” Well managed development makes sense, there needs to be more of it. Not exclusively for migration issues but all sorts of problems including the need for having a look at how well human rights values are incorporated in policies in general. Clearly, restrictions isn’t the way to go. In the report, it is also stated that, “Relatively unencumbered by the lack of policy coherence at the global and national governance levels, cities are nevertheless taking their own initiative to create socially integrative communities and forge new intercity networks of good practice around migration and urban governance. They have been established in order to strengthen relations among local 305
institutions and draw some collective good practices from their individual experiences, with the shared goal of sustainable urban development and governance.” There you go, it’s all about the initiatives. Despite political parties and extremist movements that emphasize restrictive ideas about how to run the world, normal people clearly make sure to prove them wrong. By being open and constructive. And informed, educated.
Will new partnerships be a way out of this mad migration discussion? New partnerships would be a fantastic idea, connecting cities, regions, institutions and many other actors with each other, and more importantly – with common goals and vision for the future. As many people move around for a better life, the very possibility of providing and building a better life must be there. Not only that but it has to be supported, emphasized, motivated, strategically planned and executed accordingly. 306
Many of the issues arising today is due to that fraction thing we spoke of earlier, in which nations make decisions which aren’t great, yet with the argument that in the end, everything’s all balanced in this world. Ending this series on a positive note, there seem to be far more people actually sharing the universal human rights’ values to which we’ve all subscribed, and that’s a great thing. It indicates that although the international migration situation is a tough nut to crack, there’s a lot of hope. Extremists will be extremists at all times, and they will find a way to argue for their sake. This isn’t the first time in history they try to hijack an issue to gain some seconds in the spotlight, but luckily people are smarter today and won’t take them seriously. That is, their ideas are taken seriously and dismissed. But the people representing these ideas shouldn’t be taken seriously, their level of understanding anything other than their own potential future political career is beyond what words could ever describe. At the end of the day, it’s about asking people in what kind of world they would like to live. If it’s the happy one, then we should aim at supporting communication and interaction as the main means for solving
any issues. Openness creates a space for understanding, helping others and growing as human beings â€“ wouldnâ€™t it be great if we just tried that one out? We hope that you have enjoyed this fourth and final article in our series on international migration. Hopefully, you didnâ€™t fall find it dead boring but actually a bit interesting, maybe even a little, you know, fun. Or not. Maybe a little.
Name: Jason Fort Where do you live: Bat Cave, North Carolina USA Known for: Designing all sorts of things, artistic drawings and building structures Currently working on: A wide range of concepts and inventions from hydrogen blimps to door handles, building the Cube Cabin and large scale vector drawings. I have a particular fascination with drawing giant spirals with thousands of layers. When did you realize that you were going to work with this/in this area? As long as I can remember, I have been inspired to create. I believe my root inspiration came from an early fascination with nature. If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why? Right where I am. On top of a mountain in the middle of a forest with clear water streams and waterfalls. I love nature and the changing of the seasons is amazing. How would you describe your creativity? Spontaneous ideas that evolve over long periods of time. How and when did you start to work with this in a serious manner? Around the age of 18, I started building furniture and sculptures from random objects, concrete blocks, car doors, discarded TV’s etc.. I also was working full time for a com310
pany fiberglassing surfboards and began to incorporate fiberglass into my sculptures. I soon moved from Florida to NYC and amazingly found a gallery to represent my work. What do you do at the moment? I do a good amount of freelance graphic design work for various clients as well as pursue my own designs and artistic drawings. i am also finishing up details on my most recent house design. A recommendation for those who think about starting and running a creative business? You have to be very adaptable and patient. It is rare that the opportunities that present themselves are in alignment with your underlying hopes. Tell us how it all started. It started for me by being immersed in nature as a child. A green tree frog would captivate me for hours. The brilliance of the creation. The color, the eyes, the feet, every aspect was simply amazing and magical. What is the most important thing in a workplace/studio for you? The most important tool would be my computer but my sketchbook is where most creations start. There are no rules or restrictions in my sketchbooks. No true front or back or up or down and every available space is usually filled before I start a new book. What is your favorite film? Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil”. Who would you like to invite for a dinner and why?
Nikola Tesla would be the ultimate dinner guest. How do you like to spoil yourself? Drawing for myself. What is luxury for you? Having the time and place to grow medicinal mushrooms. Twice a year I cut down a tree, inoculate the logs with different varieties of mycelium, and wait. I hang most of the logs from branches arching over the creek to maintain a steady moisture. What is the nicest compliment you’ve received for your creative work, and from whom? Every compliment is truly wonderful. What do you fear most? One recurring fear is blind curves and the car in the middle of the road coming right at me while driving in the mountains. The center line seems to only be a suggestion here. What is a happy life to you? Continuing to create and pursue new projects and opportunities, meeting new people to collaborate with and growing mushrooms. What does a regular day look like for you? It really changes by the project and by the season. In the fall I spend a lot of free time cutting and splitting firewood. The winter means tending the woodstove to keep the house/office warm. In the spring, the garden starts and I spend time inoculating logs with mushroom spawn. My projects can range from graphic design for clothing to
working on a hydrofoil sailboat. Tell us about your dream project. An ongoing collaboration with thoughtful, creative and motivated individuals, which seems ironic living on top of a mountain. Who is your professional role model/inspiration? There are many. One person I have always admired is Burt Rutan. He has designed many amazing aircraft and spacecraft. Several years ago at a museum fundraiser I was engaged in a conversation when a fellow walked up and joined in. To my amazement it was Burt. He is a brilliant nice guy and it was an honor to meet him. How would you describe your work style (academic field or fashion style, or both, or something entirely different)? My work style is fairly eclectic while my fashion style has basically been the same outfit for the last 25+ years. Which is the one thing you can’t live without? Nature. What inspires you? Nature. A book that has changed/made the most impression in your life? All the writings of Richard Brautigan. Check out Jason’s awesome website
Jan Anders Nelson
Name: Jan Anders Nelson Where do you live: Gig Harbor, Washington, USA Known for: Photorealism, Drawing, Painting Currently working with: Oil on canvas & panel, drawing with color pencil, graphite and pastel on rag, photography. When did you realize that you were going to work with this/in this area? While being active in art from a very early age, I explored music and theatre (acting, directing, dance and scenic design) until realizing that I worked best in a studio rather than in ensemble and that drawing and painting were the activities where I could establish the creative rhythm that works for me. If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why? I truly love where I live, the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, the mild maritime climate, inland waterways, rain forests and snowcapped mountain ranges all call to me. This is home. How would you describe your creativity? This is about a compulsion, a need to organize and describe what I see through the mediums I use in painting or drawing. My thoughts on creativity circle around a core concept that all creativity occurs when the equilibrium is disrupted, chaos breaking down order allowing for new patterns to emerge. These patterns emerge for me as I move through life with my camera which 326
serves to freeze a new insight that I can refer back to in my studio. How and when did you start to work with this in a serious manner? I found my place in the studio as an undergrad in the early 1970’s and while I left it for a time am very happy that I have found a path back over the past few years. What do you do at the moment? I work for Microsoft Corporation as a software engineer when I am not in my studio. Being an artist/engineer is certainly not a new phenomenon, I find that the parts of me that engage in the studio are the same as when I am inventing a new algorithm or system. The artifacts of that effort are software programs and patents. At times I see the patents as being equal to conceptual artwork in how I approach my creative efforts for the benefit of my employer. A recommendation for those who think about starting and running a creative business? If you are compelled to do things your way and have a the self-confidence to fail repeatedly in order to learn how to be successful and the drive to keep on pushing past the dark times in your career then go out and jump into your passion! Find a group of like-minded creatives and feed the community there as well as take back the energy from the group. You need this, else the isolation can become overwhelming. Find a mentor, someone who will show you where the path lies, providing some
guideposts along the way. It is crucial that this person not try and turn you into a small version of themselves. I was once advised to stay away from art schools populated by stellar art figures, quoting Brancusi “Nothing grows under a large tree.” I think this advice is very important. There are many who will pull and push you to get what they need or what they think you need. Take what they offer, but drive yourself, do not be driven by others. Tell us how it all started. My parents are musicians, I grew up being placed on a stage at a very early age when needed for a musical or play. I took music lessons for voice and instruments for the first 20 years of life, starting at about age 6. Even with all the music focus, my mother always had a lot of paper, watercolor, pencils and crayons for me to use, encouraging me to make art when I was home sick. I believe that those early years were very important to my finding myself in the studio intent on making art as a college student. It really was an evolution through the Arts, an exploration of music, theatre an dance on my way to becoming a studio artist. What is the most important thing in a workplace/studio for you? Space and light. What is your favorite film? The 1972 film “Silent Running”. The visuals in the film include the geodesic geometry of Buckminster Fuller and an environmentally charged story line that resonates today with
the reality of climate change. This film coupled with my study of Fuller’s work, writing by Rachel Carson and living in a throwaway culture of mass-production sharpened my worldview of thinking of our planet as “Spaceship Earth” and the need to care for our ship if we want to survive. Who would you like to invite for a dinner and why? If choosing from living and/or dead, then I would love to spend an evening with Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Buckminster Fuller, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Leonardo Da Vinci and Amadeus Mozart. Asimov and Clarke were amazing futurists and storytellers. Fuller brought us engineering and geometric concepts of tensegrity, synergy and structural forms based on his study of the nature of things. Chardin was a great scientist, philosopher and conceived of an evolutionary path for the Universe he called the Omega Point, and a path for humanity where we evolved into Omega Man, with a collective conscious that transcends the individual and becomes a part of the Universe. Da Vinci was a fellow engineer and artist, and though I do not presume to be as talented as Leonardo, I would love to talk! Mozart clearly also could see or think in patterns and turned those into glorious music. His genius would complement that of the other dinner guests, and I would like to get his opinion on his favorite music if he were conversant with everything created since his passing. How do you like to spoil yourself? Going to a quiet restaurant with Connie, my 327
wife, and close friends where we can enjoy great food over a leisurely dinner and relaxed conversations. What is luxury for you? Time. We only get so much of it and have no idea how much that is. Spending my allotment of time doing what I want to do is perfect luxury. What is the nicest compliment you’ve received for your creative work, and from whom? I love hearing from folks who like what I do, it always feels good to get a compliment about my work, whether commenting on skill, imagery or both. But the highest compliment I have received comes when someone wants my work in their collection. The most recent of these was a couple of weeks ago when Terry O. Herndon asked if I would sell him a painting I did in 1978, that it represented the “end piece” of his 40 year collection of American art dealing with the impact of the automobile on our 20th Century. Being included in an important collection that includes major artists like John Sloan, Ansel Adams, Jacob Lawrence, Thomas Hart Benton, Stuart Davis, Guy Pene Du Bois and Wayne Thiebaud and identified as creating the work that Herndon has described as that “end piece” capping the collection is very humbling and exciting. The way in which this came about is even more substantial to me, that a fellow artist, Eric Green, felt that he could recommend my work to Mr, Herndon. That act of support means a lot to me. 328
What do you fear most? I am not sure I know what monsters lurk under my bed at night, but maybe one thing that drives me is an idea that when I take my last conscious breath, it will not be with regret. I guess I fear regret for a life not lived. What is a happy life to you? Happy... My wife and I are healthy, our children out in the world in pursuit of their passions and time every day when I can make art. Interludes with friends and family at dinner, in gatherings. Time in the mountains or by the lake. Travelling the planet. What does a regular day look like for you? Up early, spend an hour at the computer working on engineering work, dealing with emails that come in overnight, maybe check-in on social media to see what other artists are posting. I try to also spend a little time first thing on the work I have on my easel before heading into work. The balance of the day during the week is all about software engineering, though I have a drawing table in my office and spend time there on art when I need a break from engineering. The works done there take months to complete, but it does allow for some studio time in that place. Then back home where Connie and I can decompress from the day over dinner, perhaps take in a movie and then spend another hour at the computer cleaning up the day’s work before spending the last of the day at the easel.
Tell us about your dream project. I am working on it right now, a series of paintings that I am calling the “Dirty Picture Show”. This collection of paintings is a record of my time spent in walks through forests, fields and salvage yards, taken with my Nikkormat FTN and Nikon 50mm lens four decades ago, the slides recently recovered and in their existing state, complete with dust and scratches. This added layer of patina is now a part of the record and so a part of my story. When completed in about a year from now, I see the works are consisting of 8 – 10 paintings 24” X 24” that look like the original slides, plus 4 larger works 36” X 48” that are just the images contained in some of the slides. I also think that when I hang this show, I’ll include a room with a carousel slide projector and a 36’ X 48” blank canvas where an 11th slide is projected, a workstand next to the canvas with my mechanical pencil on it, allowing anyone who comes to the exhibit to work on the layout of a painting.
are inspirational and his abilities as a mentor have helped me remain focused on my own creative efforts. How would you describe your work style (academic field or fashion style, or both, or something entirely different)? My work style has academic or historical influences to be sure. My tools are very traditional in the sense of using oil paints, pencils, brushes... But I also use digital photography, Photoshop, video projection and whatever new tools I can find that fit with my vision and project needs. Which is the one thing you can’t live without? The support of my wife and soulmate. What inspires you? Creative inspiration feels mostly like a continuum for me, with one project leading to the next. The points within that flow are moments when I stop and focus on what is happening around me using my camera to take notes as someone earlier would have used a sketchbook. There are individuals that I find inspiring as well, in how they are committed to their passions and the work that creates.
I might also provide a collection of paints and brushes for participants to use to paint into the layout as they see fit as a second act to the work. The imagery on the website A book that has changed/made the most are mockups of the paintings. impression in your life? “Synergetics: Explorations in the Geometry Who is your professional role model/inspiraof Thinking” by Buckminster Fuller. tion? Don Eddy has been my major mentor and This book helped me think about how it is longtime friend over the past 4 decades. His possible to order the magnitude of all things work ethic and skill are exemplars for anypossible in solving a problem into the macro one who considers being a studio artist, his and micro aspects as well as a construct creative process and personal philosophy
for defining a 4D framework for considering solutions to problems. I was fortunate to be able to discuss a little of this with Fuller 40 years ago when he came to the Pacific Northwest to deliver a series of talks. Check out Janâ€™s awesomeÂ website
Wafa Faith Hallam
Name: Wafa Faith Hallam Where do you live: Sag Harbor, New York State, USA Known for: Author of “The Road from Morocco,” a memoir Currently working with: Self-employed as a writer, speaker and personal coach. When did you realize that you were going to work with this/in this area? I was working on Wall Street when I was faced by multiple crises – the perfect storm, so to speak -- and I had to leave my career and figure out who I was and what I wanted out of life that was not my parents’ dream for me. If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why? Where I live now. How would you describe your creativity? I am most creative when I am present and happy, when I am out of my head and coming from my heart. How and when did you start to work with this in a serious manner? Since the spring of 2009. What do you do at the moment? Writing a book on spirituality and an allegorical novel. A recommendation for those who think about starting and running a creative business? Follow your passion and surrender to what 342
is. Stop incessant thinking and choose to be happy with what you have. Gratitude leads to more abundance in all areas of life. Tell us how it all started. Crashing emotionally and waddling in confusion and pain. Then I discovered the light of consciousness. What is the most important thing in a workplace/studio for you? Good positive energy, lots of natural light and closeness to nature. What is your favorite film? I have many favorites, here are some: The English Patient; Life is Beautiful; Amadeus; Forrest Gump; Sophie’s Choice; Titanic; Avator; La Vie en Rose; Lawrence of Arabia. Who would you like to invite for a dinner and why? Oprah, for her spiritual work and her amazing gift as a leader in her industry. Hillary Clinton, for her courage and resilience. How do you like to spoil yourself? Walking on an Ocean beach, traveling the world, a great restaurant with lively conversation with someone I love and admire. What is luxury for you? Love, happiness and joy in the moment – Also a luxury cruise. What is the nicest compliment you’ve received for your creative work, and from whom? Read the 5 star Amazon reviews for my book. I am always humbled and blessed
by the responses I get from my readers and fans. What do you fear most? Fear itself. What is a happy life to you? Knowing who I AM, living in the present with love and gratitude, having lots of dear friends and family around, inspiring others with my writing.
Also, I want to share a review of my book by an English professor I had never met before, which will tell you a lot about me. It’s full of spoilers so be aware if you plan to read the book. You can also find it on my website under the title “Faith Abundant”. Check out Wafa’s awesome website
What does a regular day look like for you? Starts with meditation, then yoga class, working from my house writing, having dinner alone or with a loved one, reading in bed. Tell us about your dream project. The Road from Morocco to be made into a movie or mini-series. Who is your professional role model/inspiration? Oprah, Eleanor Roosevelt. How would you describe your work style (academic field or fashion style, or both, or something entirely different)? Relaxed and comfortable. Easy is beautiful to me. Which is the one thing you can’t live without? Love. What inspires you? Nature and pure consciousness. A book that has changed/made the most impression in your life? A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. 343
What if your best friend is a refugee? Do you remember when you were in school with this kid, and the only thing you really noticed to be different was that s/he was a foreigner? No further thoughts, because most often, a few seconds is about the time which young kids spend on irrelevant things.
However, as a little bit older, young adults, these things change. We learn that people “are” different things, some of which they themselves would like to point out clearly, and some of which they would like to be ignored at all cost. “But it comes with suspicion - is there really no war happening?” This latter category may include the part of someone’s life which made her/him leave their home, families and country to flee flee from war, from armed lunatics, from starving and from the massive fear such events create. Making it to a peaceful country is great, it’s an amazing thing to be surrounded by notwar if you’ve ever been in one before. But it comes with suspicion - is there really no war happening? As you get food on the table, real food, one whole meal, for the first time since months - this is a big thing. It’s a massive thing, and you start eating like there’s no tomorrow.
apart, the people aren’t armed, nobody’s falling dead or injured on the street, buildings aren’t scattered by bombs - and a million other things. For someone who hasn’t experienced this, it’s as though this would by default mean that these refugees should be happy, overwhelmingly glad to be in their host country. That’s true, and most probably are - but they have been in such a distressed mode for so long, that these intense negative emotions are stuck there. Now, the whole point here is that we wrote a piece about this a while back - a very important editor’s letter which we would encourage you to read once again. It’s only a few details written down by one person and parts of her experience, but it might be worth reading, as we’re currently facing a substantial change in terms of human movement around the world. Read the letter here and start having a chat with people.
“For someone who hasn’t experienced this, it’s as though this would by default mean that these refugees should be happy, overwhelmingly glad to be in their host country.” Because the memory is fresh and you know how it’s like to starve, to not have anything, to be happy if you get a glass of water from somewhere. And then, as you’re in this new, peaceful country, suddenly the normal feeling of existence isn’t fear. The system isn’t falling
Getting all attached t
Ever found yourself debating things concerning proper behavior in certain s ones he was thought by some old person? Despite new, better information be cific situation might be much better, this doesn’t at all seem to affect the way All societies have developed ways in which to function as a group of people. In all of this, many of these models are aimed at directing its citizens, the human beings, inviting them to reason in a certain way which would support and maintain the current state of that given place. This might include a certain cultural preference, recurring events, religious ceremonies and moral guides, political views, all of which also include descriptions of the bad things. The latter includes all other forms of beliefs and manners as being, if not really bad then certainly a bit less great than the current ones in the society where you happen to live. What a convenient coincidence, isn’t it?
Be it religious or not, people have a preference of believing things to be true Now, this would be a solid way to manage people had it not been for the access we’ve all got to each other. Once upon a time where there people had to rely on state reports and large media houses news, the job was much simpler. People didn’t travel as much, they didn’t have real-time access to what’s going on all over the world. They simply had no other choice than to take some things for granted. But then, there were people in each society who simply couldn’t buy the very selective frame presented to them. Some of them got into the world of technology, developing communication tools for people to gain freedom, they themselves having access to
to old belief systems
situations with someone who refuses to see any other perspectives than the eing accessible and clearly indicating that new models for acting in a spey in which the solid mind of this guy works. Is it annoying, much? investigate things if they found it necessary. Yet, not many found that appealing. This is because societies are constructed in a particular way due to appeal. It’s quite attractive for the larger part of any population to hold shared values, to have common beliefs and attend the same events. It’s supportive, protective, comforting – that’s why it works. Not only that, but it’s fantastically constructed so as to free people from responsibility. The talking part of live takes over the acting part, and the pattern of routine takes over the concept of reasoning, questioning. On an individual level, many questions arise. Many people found themselves caught up in a weird thought pattern where their individual freedom to think is restricted. Those are the ones raising their
voices and leading uncomfortable discussions moving society forwards.
What’s up with this attachment situation? Being quite simple to put forward critique towards some of the clearly weird parts of societies and their marketed mindsets, there’s also the safety aspect of the group being taken into consideration. We’re a social species, we thrive on interaction, communication, on gathering and sharing things in order to collectively gain more. Anything or anyone coming from the outside and trying to scratch on the surface of these (perceived as solid and safe) models of life, will meet opposition. 349
Again, because the perceived safety of having a group to ask for help, creating things together and comforting each other goes straight into the primitive parts of our minds. This is a tough questions as we all today have access to other people and other perspectives, seeming to work just fine. This whole idea of constructing a society with the absolute need to ridicule and dismiss all others is cracking big times and people who aren’t aware of these various models for managing a population feel fear and anger about the whole thing. Things seen as common interests are being shook up by new influence, only to realize the very fact that other people are people too, their former societies having shaped their worldview as well, their values and beliefs being questioned too.
Sorry to break it to you – The comfort zone doesn’t exist The point of it all is that this perceived place where all people get along simply because they state that they do, doesn’t really exist anywhere other than in people’s minds. Stating to dig into this big mess of contradictory values and funny morals would be a job for scientist, but as it seems – people are going to have to handle it themselves. 350
“Man is not a circle with a single center; he is an ellipse with two focii. Facts are one, ideas are the other.” ― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables This could go in two directions – either people decide to criticize their thinking, their own beliefs and models for life, or they don’t. If they do, the very outcome is unclear, but at least we will create a new set of questions to ask ourselves, in order to create a better planet. If, instead, the latter happens, then we’ll have a group of leading figures insisting on going backwards, to some mythological society in which their particular group of people are the chosen ones, the leaders. This is both a question for the individual and the group. It’s not pretty, but ignorance hasn’t led us to anything great during the past, ever. Through critical thinking we get down to business, trying to describe and solve the issues which currently make our lives more difficult than they should be.
Gaining more from being a little less stiff What’s more to be said about allowing oneself to be more open-minded, facing inner fears and trying to figure out from where they really come? Is it a legitimate fear in the first place? Is it directed towards a solid
“source”? How should that particular fear be removed and is it reasonable to think that any of the “threats” are really that? Attachment to something currently perceived as safe, and the automatic detachment from those things which aren’t, is a pain in the ass. One thing is clear – it is not the thing itself towards which we’re attached that is the problem, but the very concept of attachment as it is defined today. If we all chill out for a second, sit down and try to map out why some of the current systems, patterns of thought or whatever, aren’t fitting reality, that would be a great start to figure out an alternative. People who enjoy referring to old systems as being great may please feel free to do so, staying in a state of fantasy life forever. For the rest of us? We’ve got to figure out a way in which to enjoy this planet in a good, constructive, happy way – it’s about time.
Name: Max Lykasov Where do you live: Minsk, Belarus Known for: Architect, CG Artist. Currently working with: Co-Founder and CTO of Lunas Visualization When did you realize that you were going to work with this/in this area? Since my school years I was interested in mathematics, physics and graphics, so when I was 14-15 years old I decided I’d become an architect. If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why? At the moment I don’t have any particular country/place in mind, but my ideal place would be definitely something quiet, with beautiful nature and large open space. How would you describe your creativity? I give the possibility to see what does not exist yet. How and when did you start to work with this in a serious manner? When I was a student I was interested in architectural visualization, but I’ve started to work in a more realistic manner quite recently. What do you do at the moment? I am working on the development of our relatively young company, the selection of young and talented professionals who will be able to maintain the exceptionally high quality of our work. We sell 3D visualization services. 354
A recommendation for those who think about starting and running a creative business? I would quote Walt Disney who said: “Whatever you do, do it well. Do it so well that when people see you do it, they will want to come back and see you do it again, and they will want to bring others and show them how well you do what you do.” This is the approach I’m trying to maintain in my work too. Tell us how it all started. (Gradually) After university, I started working for a large engineering firm, then decided that I feel more comfortable working for myself. Having spent almost a year working as a freelancer, I decided to move forward with business, and had the idea to combine forces with my friend - an expert in the field of management and marketing. His name is Slava Oganesyan. Now we are the founders of Lunas Visualization. In addition to the 3D visualization department we have a design department, which is headed by my wife, a very talented architect - Jenya Lukasova. What is the most important thing in a workplace/studio for you? A powerful computer and a large monitor - this is all you need to have to be able to work productively. What is your favorite film? It’s hard to select one. I have plenty of favorite movies in different genres. I like movies with great high-quality graphics - I watch
them with pleasure. Who would you like to invite for a dinner and why? My family. I have a big and friendly family. Unfortunately, I can’t spend much time with them now, but I adore our family reunions! How do you like to spoil yourself? To sleep 12 hours in a row. What is luxury for you? Free time when I can do anything I want. What is the nicest compliment you’ve received for your creative work, and from whom? The best compliment is when people ask to show the 3D model in wire to make sure that this is a rendering, not a real photo.
something entirely different)? I have no idea :) Which is the one thing you can’t live without? A human being can’t live without water, food and shelter - if you have all this, the rest is less important. What inspires you? Genuine environment, Genuine materials and lighting, greenery, fire, sky, and water – I’m very muсh inspired by nature in general. A book that has changed/made the most impression in your life? “The Mysterious Island” by Jules Verne. Check out Max’s website
What do you fear most? Run out of ideas... What is a happy life to you? When I am jealous of myself. What does a regular day look like for you? Work, sleep, work, sleep... Tell us about your dream project. Today Lunas is my dream project and I’m doing everything to make it a successful one! Who is your professional role model/inspiration? Guys from studio Mir.no are good enough to follow their works. How would you describe your work style (academic field or fashion style, or both, or 355
When drones are used for useful, peaceful things If you haven’t been hiding under a rock for the past years, then you’ve got introduced to a new tech product available to consumers – the drone. This little advice is unmanned, it flies and carries a few things along with filming its surrounding while you stand somewhere on the ground, directing it. Is it awesome or what? So far, this technology is still being explored by its users, both for amazing things and maybe a little less great. What’s the magic about this product and why should people keep an eye on it?
Communication comes in many shapes and sizes, some of which aim to provide visual information in the form of moving photography. Which is to say, movies. Now, this has been around for quite a while but it is only recently that moving pictures has been democratized, available to everyone who’s got a phone. Or, really very recently, a drone. A drone by definition is a human-free machine which is operated with from the ground. Those commercially available ones are amazing, enabling a whole new dimension of shared videos and concepts.
“We live in a box of space and time. Movies are windows in its walls. They allow us to enter other minds, not simply in the sense of identifying with the characters, although that is an important part of it, but by seeing the world as another person sees it.” – Robert Ebert
Having a drone chat – Why the F not? Considering to invest in a drone is a question about preference more than anything else. If you’re into art, news, documentary filming, architecture, landscape photography, investigative journalism or even event management – such a device could enable you to get your message out there. Hiring a film crew to set up their tech stuff and film a crowd of happy people, or a skyline or anything else – well, it’s pricy and requires a lot of logistics. A drone is a small little flying thing, and that’s about it. “For me nature is not landscape, but the dynamism of visual forces.” – Bridget Riley Yet another fantastic thing with this device is that it could enable chatting – visual, but still counts though, in pretty much close to real-time filming. Imagine someone wishing to put light on an important issue, or present their awesome new (huge) art piece online. They get their drone up and start filming it 365
all, transferring it to the computer and uploading all to their exclusive premiere. Who wouldn’t want to be involved in something like that? Upload it via some cool real-time video sharing application and you just got yourself a pretty nice event. “This last demonstration is an exploration of synthetic swarms. The large number of autonomous, coordinated entities offers a new palette for aesthetic expression. We’ve taken commercially available micro quadcopters, each weighing less than a slice of bread, by the way, and outfitted them with our localization technology and custom algorithms. Because each unit knows where it is in space and is self-controlled, there is really no limit to their number.” – Raffaello D’Andrea, from his TED Talk Or an international issue, something unfair in need of being communicated but with such restrictions that it would be impossible for a human being to access the place. Well, it wouldn’t for a drone. Or taking beautiful landscape photos like these, or creating incredible marketing events. The list is endless, so are the opportunities and possibilities with having access to such great technology. Why not find the best way possible to cultivate this new asset?
Considering rethinking the whole issue thing in technology Being attentive towards potential security risks and issues is great, so is acting with a preventive mindset. An asshole could probably figure out far too many potentially destructive ways in which to use this tool, but that’s a small number as always. With every new technology, there will be a certain amount of individuals trying to do all they can to become ever so destructive. Let the cops deal with them. And, while we’re at it, let the creative professionals worldwide have access to these tools as well, introducing young creatives to the possibilities and letting them explore a new dimension of creating visual imagery. Rethinking the technology issues and risks really means to see the potential of constructive use and then go use the particular technology in such a way that it makes a good contribution to society. Whether it’s in the field of art, medicine, international relations or anywhere else, the main point is that the outcome from using that particular tool should be adding value to people.
“Visual art and writing don’t exist on an aesthetic hierarchy that positions one above the other, because each is capable of things the other can’t do at all. Sometimes one picture is equal to 30 pages of discourse, just as there are things images are completely incapable of communicating.” – William S. Burroughs
Seeing the possibilities with drones is a question on perspective. Would we want this device to be used to add maximum value to us? To possibly show us the world through another perspective? To have access to previously unknown parts of the world? Well then, if that’s a yes – then go get yourself a drone.
Name: Dana Nehdaran Where do you live: New York, USA Known for: I am known as an artist, more recently the Esther’s Children series, a showing in Tehran, Dubai and Los Angeles. Currently working with: I work primarily in painting, traditionally oil on canvas. When did you realize that you were going to work with this/in this area? When I first started painting the images of the collection, “Esther’s Children” by Houman Sarshar, I was only thinking about the origins of Jews of Iran. At this point, I subconsciously added some faces to the photos, and took out some others; the reason for this is still not clear to me. The next stage was searching for myself in those paintings. Nevertheless, after the painting process was over, a feeling grew in me, which is more important to me than any other experience in this work: it was the connection that those people in those old images were making with me, and thinking that they could very well be my own ancestors. I started seeing signs of their presence at home. Perhaps those signs had always existed, and I only noticed them after I did the paintings and experienced the feelings that followed them. If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why? 370
New York because full of art events every day. How would you describe your creativity? Creativity for me is like hunger or thirst, I am addicted to paint, color is my drug ! How and when did you start to work with this in a serious manner? After my graduation from Sooreh, an art university in Shiraz, Iran. What do you do at the moment? I am currently working with different materials but cohesive to my current struggle of what was there, what’s here and how the two are constantly in both conflict and harmony. The materials have created a challenging process as I’ve not yet achieved the result I’m seeking and additionally, the chemical reaction and fumes have been both problematic to my roommates and myself. A recommendation for those who think about starting and running a creative business? Of course, for those few individuals, including myself, we are so fortunate to have such self-destiny. I would advise anyone that they should first believe in yourself and your work and should utilize their best skill and material to show how much you yourself and your work. Tell us how it all started. Honestly, I just wanted to paint. Earning money or starting a business was never part of my thought or motivation. I had no choice but to paint and that patrons would
value my work is just a bonus. What is the most important thing in a workplace/studio for you? An open space with good light, free of distraction and of course, a great canvas. What is your favorite film? The Piano Teacher by Michael Haneke, as it shows realistic hidden human feelings and emotions. Who would you like to invite for a dinner and why? Natalie Portman, certainly, she is a pleasure to simply gaze upon; however, she is equally so smart and passionate about her art. How do you like to spoil yourself? Travel - I enjoy meeting people from other cultures and learning more about what is important to them. What is luxury for you? Luxury would be owning my flat in New York with a great an open bright work space! What is the nicest compliment you’ve received for your creative work, and from whom? The nicest compliment of my work was not composed of any words but rather just raw emotion where Mrs. Ghoreyshi, a client of mine, simply cried when she viewed a current collection while at my studio! What do you fear most? That I may never return to my hometown What is a happy life to you? Having an exhibition in a metropolitan area
that is both one that I’m proud of and one that is well received. What does a regular day look like for you? A regular day is a day with 3 meals, working on paintings, going out of studio for any reason and watching a series. Tell us about your dream project. I’ve been very fortunate in that I’ve worked on a great many dream projects; however, I’m currently waiting on that next dream! Who is your professional role model/inspiration? Leonardo Da Vinci - he painted not only the physical but captured the soul. How would you describe your work style (academic field or fashion style, or both, or something entirely different)? Probably a combination of both. I certainly rely and love academic style but my work is certainly also organic. I try to show something that the viewer has always viewed but did not until that time, care to see. Which is the one thing you can›t live without? Maybe my eyes, hands. What inspires you? An everyday snapshot of what is and how different layers of time and material interacted to achieve that presence. A book that has changed/made the most impression in your life? “Movements in Modern Art” by Edward Lucie-Smith. Check out Dana’s awesome website
Pure madness, or how Dan Ariely puts it - Predictably irrational Hack your brain and understand why you make stupid decisions Talk is cheap, you’ve heard it before. But speaking of equality, how come today’s community has got the most militant advocates for a broad range of things in some way touching on this concept, yet also a bad situation for equality in general? The concept has been eroded to the point of sliding into pure madness, and the more you think of a question close to your heart, the clearer this situation will become. What’s up with us all and why do we seem to be so totally out of mental shape when dealing with issues of equality?
As most are aware of, thinking and acting are two separate things of human capacity. Some people like to use these two
mechanisms simultaneously, while others prefer to focus on one at a time. For some people, thinking is the main mechanism, the focus point which to trust and invest effort into perfecting. Others believe that it is through acting that human development happens, thus investing time and effort into actually trying out new ideas much more than leaving them to be only a set of thoughts.
“What happens when people expect something from their physiology? For example, we sold people pain medications. Some people, we told them the medications were expensive. Some people, we told them it was cheap. And the expensive pain medication worked better. It relieved more pain from people, because expectations do change our physiology.” – Dan Ariely
Our mere perception about certain products, event and people all depend on their presentation, our own circumstances and pretty much science determines how we will act in a given case. Choosing painkillWhat’s the deal about all of this is that ers depend on the amount of access to those preferring one over the other, value it information we’ve got about this particular more and thus see the other alternative as product, sometimes overlapping the very necessary indeed, but not quite valuable as previous personal (bad) experience with the preference of choice. That’s just northat brand. mal – imagine all people walking around and thinking EVERYTHING’s awesome, that If we’d like to think that something will work would be insane. out just fine, it might indeed but it may also
It’s about change in thinking about human behavior in the first place The thing about human beings in general, and our ability to rationalize choices in particular, is that we are all highly biased. Our previous experience, thoughts, information, desires, needs and wishes all create a basis from which then to make somewhat irrational decisions.
not at all. The capacity people have when dealing with tough situations, to think about them in such a way making them bearable, is one example of things going well. The opposite, well, take any blind date and you’ll get the point. Look at this like the inequality gap between a real situation and acting from pure madness.
What we think we are, think, do and believe – And then there’s the truth Now, as the brain might be better at thinking about things than deciding which actions to take, this isn’t the whole truth. In reality, the brain creates a beautiful world in which all the worst things imaginable to humanity is a little bit, well, put away. Likewise, this is also what happens when people think about themselves, resulting in at times really funny gaps between reality and fantasy. “Now, nobody in our sample wanted full equality. Nobody thought that socialism is a fantastic idea in our sample. But what does it mean? It means that we have this knowledge gap between what we have and what we think we have, but we have at least as big a gap between what we think is right to what we think we have.” – Dan Ariely The world seems to spin even without someone thinking, reasoning and acting, yet our species would like to think otherwise. We’d like to be the important ones, the heroes, the best of the best and the purest of all purity. Well. What if our brain really enjoys to BS us? Considering the amount of data we’ve got available, the case studies for how to end 376
poverty and help make equality happen, it’s amazing that we haven’t succeeded yet. That is, if the assumption is that we actually, deep down, would like to see that happen. Equality, in all forms, shapes and sizes, is a beautiful concept but it requires a total freedom from selfishness to reach its full potential. Do we do that?
Hack your brain and behavior There’s a gap between our conscious thinking and subconscious reasoning, creating this imbalance and fully irrational thinking in total. Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist looking at human behavior and analyzing the predictability lying in this irrational way of do the human beings thing, sees some issues involving these gaps. “Then we have the desirability gap. How do we get people to think differently about what we really want?You see, the Rawls definition, the Rawls way of looking at the world, the blind tasting approach, takes our selfish motivation out of the picture. How do we implement that to a higher degree on a more extensive scale?” – Dan Ariely As an observation, in order to create more awareness of our internal imbalance and
the external influence on decision-making (helping that imbalance to flourish), some serious deep thought might be necessary. If we’re all for inequality, in all aspects of life, then we should keep moving in the same direction. If there’s some part of us, however, wishing to change things and really make the world better, making ourselves better in the process – then scientists like Dan need to keep happening to us. Making dumbass decisions happen to everyone in life (some like to do it more often than others), and in admitting shit to be happening is the very first step of figuring out why that is, and what to do about it. This is important for evolving as a human being, on a personal level as well as societies. Equality isn’t just about beer, pills and poverty – it goes into pretty much every thinkable aspect of life, and is it then a great idea to ignore it all? If people are predictably irrational, let’s use that as a new guide for understanding human beings and concepts that we’ve made based on the old assumption of being fully rational.
Name: Mohamed Samir Where do you live? I am Egyptian, currently living in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Known for: Creative design, branding and geometric illustrations. Currently working as: Lead Designer. When did you realize that you were going to work with this/in this area? When I was ten, probably. I started shining with my drawing skills at that time. If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why? This is a tough question. But If I have to choose, so it will be in the jungle! It is the only place that has all the creatures that we got inspiration from. How would you describe your creativity? I don’t believe in that term “creativity”. We don’t create, we just discover, and creativity is the art of discovery. Let’s call it “style” and I can say that my style is the simple design with an artistic hint. How and when did you start to work with this in a serious manner? I studied engineering; I was doing both engineering and design till I shifted totally. But I’ve taken this seriously since the day I started it, 2009. 380
What do you do at the moment? Currently I am focusing more on branding. And I am doing series of geometric illustrations that simplifies life objects into 2.5D shapes. A recommendation for those who think about starting and running a creative business? Two pieces of advice. First, is to think always about what the new thing they will add to make them different in the market. Second, Commercial art is always about meeting a communication need of someone else not about our own creative expression. Tell us how it all started. I don’t think that I remember a solid start, I started sketching when I was very young then moved to design after studying engineering. So it was there all the time! What is the most important thing in a workplace/studio for you? Calmness and Space. What is your favorite film? Planet earth, The BBC series. Who would you like to invite for a dinner and why? My art teacher, Mr. MouneerLashin. To thank him for all his support and knowledge that he gave me while I was child. How do you like to spoil yourself? Here is a secret! Every now and then, I go
to the sea alone at night and just sleep on the sand. It always helps me to relax, think and sometimes come up with new ideas or projects. What is luxury for you? Luxury is simplicity. What is the nicest compliment you’ve received for your creative work, and from whom? “You have golden dust in your fingers” by Rob Marinissen. What do you fear most? My only fear is whether what I am doing is going to add something new from artistic perspective and whether it will change someone’s thinking in a good way or no from an effectiveness perspective. What is a happy life to you? A happy life for me is (to do my best + to be satisfied with what I have) both together. What does a regular day look like for you? This is a tough one, because every day for me is a new life, but normally it is like opening my eyes and asking what is the challenge today and start working on that. It could be as simple as just resting all the day or challenging as working 24 hours a day.
Who is your professional role model/inspiration? To be honest, from professional perspective I used to follow good work and I never felt that I want to be or follow a certain person. How would you describe your work style (academic field or fashion style, or both, or something entirely different)? It is simple design with an artistic hint. Also I am always keen about exploring, picking and work with new color palettes. Which is the one thing you can’t live without? If it is one thing, so it will have to be water! What inspires you? All the surroundings, attitude of creatures, colours of birds, materials of plants, motion of butterflies…etc. A book that has changed/made the most impression in your life? I’ve read several books in design, art, engineering, math and soft skills. I consider every book as a brick in my personal build. But on a life scale, the book that made the most impression in my life is the Quran. Check out Mohamed’s awesome portfolio
Tell us about your dream project. My dream project is to build an art village that does not aim profit. It would be just to support everyone to express themselves with artistic tools. 381
Want to go to the dark side of the web?
As more people transfer their lives from IRL to online, it might be an awesome idea to get to know the web some more. Most people can count the amount of frequently visited websites on two hands, but how about the rest of it? What about the huge network of coding that creates a depth of multiple dimensions online? Check out this series if you’d like to know more about what the deep web is all about and why you might want to stay updated about it. Everyone’s heard about the web, the internet – it’s where many people hang out, like pretty much the coolest place to be. Now, this space is really constructed into very complex networks, codes and data. This structure enables us to make websites, profiles, to research and find data, and to interact with each other. However, since it’s a complex structure, as we do our daily routines online, it all happens on a rather shallow level of internet. Walking into the deep web is another story.
The deep web – How to reach it and what to know This is the part of the web that isn’t indexed, meaning you won’t access the content of those sites through the usual search engines. In order to get into this world, you need to know a few things:
Reaching content on the deep web could be a great experience
Use tools for anonymity like Tor
There are tons of sites accessible to people, with a huge variety of content
You might find a bunch of bullshit there
Getting started can be tricky, but if you’re curious, you’ll figure it out pretty quickly
The deep web really is more like an unfiltered, anonymous place for people to freely discuss whatever they’d like to discuss, without giving away their identity as we are all doing while surfing on the “normal” web. Some refer to this part of the internet as a way of true democratization, enabling the free speech to the fullest, without interference from cookies and crap mapping out your behavioral pattern online. Others point out to the less sincere and weird part of the deep web, even to the extent of naming this side of the dimension “the dark web”. Others point out to the less sincere and weird part of the deep web, even to the extent of naming this side of the dimension “the dark web”. This due to its at times criminal content, naming pedophilia and trafficking (including drug trade) as two main 393
points of concern.
The deep web and conspiracy theories Let’s get the party started. Ever since its big boom on the online network, the deep web has been a source of all sorts of conspiracy theories. Everything thinkable has been discussed and debated over at the fora available, anonymously and freely from interfering with everyday life. As on this non-anonymous part of the web, these discussions tend to heat up pretty quickly, producing a whole new language of nice phrases and kind words related to mothers, family trees and conducting “business” so to speak. The great part about the deep web is that it connects people insisting on anonymity. Why is this a big deal? Because the rest of the online activity isn’t. It’s not, although some people would like to think that the “incognito” mode is equal to freedom of expression. And, of course, freedom for research. Imagine that you enjoy to read what people feel in any particularly sensitive question, whether morally or politically. Despite not sharing any of these views, getting access to other people’s mindsets is pretty much priceless. 394
As is being on the other side of that interaction, freely sharing some views that might never otherwise have been shared in the consumer part of internet, or IRL. This is a process of education, a moment of enlightenment and freedom of speech. Nevertheless, it is also a goldmine in terms of access to researchable data, not to mention the raise in skill in terms of linguistics. Words you never thought existed are being created as you’re reading this sentence – how awesome is that?
International crime and the deep web As previously mentioned, there’s a bunch of somewhat fishy business going on in some parts of the deep web. International illegal trade has been a hot topic in some of these fora, especially when speaking of giant, sick assholes networking and conducting their business. However, it’s far from reasonable to draw the conclusion that the deep web in itself is a big bowl of highly criminal people freely doing whatever they wish to do. It’s not. But as in real life and real societies, there are spots here and there consisting of those assholes behaving as their distorted brains find legit. Did you enjoy this article? If you did, stay
tuned for next week as we connect the deep web to the field of international relations as well as the mystique aspect of this intriguing place!Â
Name: Elia Colombo Where do you live: Milan area, Italy Known for: Conceptual illustration Currently working as: Freelance illustrator and designer When did you realize that you were going to work in this area? It happened when I had a real job and I started realizing how depressing it was. The painful idea of having to work my entire life, led me to a turning point. I decided to work the way I do now cause life is too short to get a real job. If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why? It could be probably a quiet, warm city by the sea. How would you describe your creativity? The keyword for creativity nowadays is “curiosity”. It seems if you’re not curious, you can’t move even a step into the design world. Well, basically, I’m not curious at all and I’m greatly proud of this. My work is all about “saying something” in a critical and/or clever way. I like to turn a “critical theme” into something positive, but also denounce a bad thing behind a “good message”. I believe in universal concepts and I don’t focus that much on specific themes. For example, if it comes to work on a political 398
theme, such as corruption, I would never approach the theme complaining how much X, Y or Z are corrupt. I would rather analyze what is corruption itself, and maybe evaluate its benefits. How and when did you start to work with this in a serious manner? I don’t think there’s a specific point. I am always in the “not yet serious” situation, always trying to make better than before. It’s a continuous process. What do you do at the moment? I’m involved in a couple of big design projects as a freelance in my country, as well as in different minor projects worldwide. I’m always up for new collaborations A recommendation for those who think about starting and running a creative business? Since it’s not that easy to run a creative business, I think the first thing you must to fix in your mind is that nothing, and no one, can give you back the time you wasted doing a job that you dislike (this was, and currently is my reason). My recommendation has nothing to do with the “do what you love to do” advice, which has no value, if it isn’t sustained by a strong reason. You must to find a reason before searching for what you love to do: thinking positive without a solid basis is like trying to fly without the support of air. Tell us how it all started.
I started working as an illustrator just for fun, by combining my passion for drawing with the digital media potential. I approached the world of t-shirts first, but I moved away from it because of my vocation for elevated concepts that doesn’t work on t-shirts. It took me some time to get in touch with creative directors, and self-promotion is still an important aspect of my job. What is the most important thing in a workplace/studio for you? Silence is the most important thing. What is your favorite film? The first Matrix, Into the wild, Woody’s, and pretty much everything is produced by Studio Ghibli. Who would you like to invite for a dinner and why? Probably Emanuele Severino, who’s the greatest thinker currently living. How do you like to spoil yourself? Lying on my couch doing nothing. Letting Thought flow and just seeing what happens. Another great way is to read books. What is luxury for you? To be able to afford the best food. What is the nicest compliment you’ve received for your creative work, and from whom? I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people that supported my creative work in recent years. I’d like to be able to
return all the beautiful words I get and even more! However, I received the best compliment from my professor of philosophical hermeneutics, who said immediately after my examination: “Congratulations, it’s clear that these are just your things!” Even if the compliment is not really about my work, it was like receiving an incomparable shock from the deep. What do you fear most? Every no-way-out situation, such as being buried alive or standing in an overcrowded place; but also an office job or simply a marriage. What is a happy life to you? The life of those who know what is life. What does a regular day look like for you? I wake up and I have my breakfast. Most of the times I work from home, so I turn on my computer and I start; alternatively, I move to the place where I have to work. When I work from home, and the work takes the entire day, I stop only for having my lunch and my dinner (I cook them by myself and I like to take my time when it comes to eat). I spend my spare time either reading, or going out for a walk (I love walking). I spend my nights out, preferably from Thursday (my favorite night) onwards, avoiding the first few days of the week. Tell us about your dream project. 399
In my country, we say that if you tell others your dream, it won’t come true. Who is your professional role model/inspiration? Diogenes, I suppose. When Alexander the Great met the philosopher, who was relaxing in the sunlight, he asked Diogenes what he desired the most. Diogenes simply replied that he wanted him to stand out of his sunlight. So, Alexander the Great, the conqueror of the world, bowed to the philosopher. Nothing but sunlight: compared to this wisdom, every other “role model” is unnecessary to me. How would you describe your work style? In two words: soft and powerful. Which is the one thing you can’t live without? If I were in my 2 years old again, I would definitely say: tomatoes! But now, I say books. What inspires you? All things, the good ones as the evil ones. A book that has changed your life? If I have to choose one, it would be “Thus spoke Zarathustra” by Nietzsche, for the vertigo of its contemplative summit. Check out Elia’s awesome website
Name: Enda Bardell
harsh condition. A few were executed.
Where do you live: Vancouver, Canada
Sweden also had a difficult time absorbing all the 300,000 (80,000 from Estonia) refugees from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Known for: Acrylic hard edge abstract paintings on canvas and loose expressionist watercolours on paper. Currently working with: I am currently working as a visual artist painting in watercolour and teaching wet in wet watercolour part time. When did you realize that you were going to work with this/in this area? I’m not exactly sure when I realized I was going to be an artist as there were many stages before now. When I was about 6 years old, living as a refugee from Estonia with my parents in Sweden, I admired a 12 old girl’s artwork and wanted to draw like her, to which my Mom replied in Estonian “You have to start drawing and practice”. There was another time too when I was age 13, after we immigrated to Canada, when my parents no longer felt safe in Sweden. Stalin convinced Sweden the return of the Estonian refugees, considering them now to be the property of the Soviet Union, promising to give them back their jobs and homes, which did not happen. The refugees ended up in the GULAG, Siberian labour camps, where they perished due to 410
The Swedish people did not welcome the Baltic refugees. In some areas where we lived, the parents would not allow their children to play with Estonian children because we were a lower class citizen, refugees. I felt excluded. The teachers were unkind also, not allowing me to go the toilet when I needed to go. My Mom worked in a paper factory where I had unlimited access to cardboard and paper. So I turned to art and made back and front paper dolls and designed clothes for them. Life was completely different when we arrived in Vancouver, Canada, via Winnipeg. The children were friendly and the teachers were kind. One teacher, Mr. McLaughlin, at Admiral Seymour Elementary School, encouraged me to submit a coloured drawing of a family of dogs looking out of the window of a barn to an interschool art competition, in which I won a book for the school! I was delighted! From then on in I considered myself a true artist. However, life interfered. Or at least it did not allow me to practice art full time with
a young family and working outside the home, but I was still doing some creative work on the side such as painting and fabric art. After many careers (about 8 I think) I decided that I wanted to go back to my first love, the strongest, art! I was influenced by a few major artists.Â First, Vincent Van Gogh, Emily Carr, Lawren Harris, Toni Onley and Joan Balzar, all in that order. When I got tired of being a realtor working with people day and night and seeing beautiful art in peopleâ€™s homes, I decided to leave the business world and paint watercolours.
townhouse overlooking English Bay where I can swim in the ocean, view the evening sunsets, smell the salty air, see the freighters come and go from faraway lands, where the political climate is stable and the natural climate is mild, not extreme and, and there is an abundance of international cuisine. There is also my homeland, Estonia, the country in which I was born, where I still have relatives, the language and culture, where my heart belongs, where I lived my Utopian childhood before the age of 5, before the Soviets occupied our little country of 1 million people (at that time), from where we had to flee because my fatherâ€™s crime was defending his country.
So I can say that I had about 3 starts in becoming an artist.
Then there is also Italy, the country of beautiful art, beautiful architecture, wonderful music, delicious food, great climate, romantic, beautiful and friendly people living a civilized life by eating their main meal in the middle of the afternoon followed by a siesta. And they express their feelings about everybody and everything.
If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why? Having traveled to 34 countries, this becomes a tough question.
How would you describe your creativity? My creativity is basically experimental whether it be acrylic hard edge painting or loose and free watercolours, where I
My feet are in Vancouver, near my close family and friends. I love living in this beautiful city, with the ski mountains on one side, and the beach just a few steps from my
interact with the watercolour, allowing it to paint itself, more or less.
I became friends with Toni Onley who taught me watercolours. But before that, I was a student of Joan Balzar, an iconic Vancouver abstract artist, who became my mentor.
The hard edge paintings require measuring, taping, sealing the edges of the tape, 411
making sure the paint goes on smoothly. Total precision and opposite to watercolour painting. How and when did you start to work with this in a serious manner? I had 2 serious starts. The first one in 1968, with Joan Balzar, painting hard edge abstracts, when my first marriage was failing. The second and last start was in 2002, with Toni Onley beginning with watercolour, which is what I had not tried before. I had painted in oils when I was a teenager and acrylics later. What do you do at the moment? Right now I seem to be teaching a lot of watercolour art with 2 - 3 hour classes per week, 6 weeks at a time with 3 month breaks in between. My classes are very popular. However, my main work is painting watercolour outdoors when weather permits and exploring faster and looser methods of painting watercolour on paper.
admire and keep practicing, not forgetting about the business side of art. What is the most important thing in a workplace/studio for you? Music! Jazz and classic and everything in between. I do need light of course too. Painting on location I have the fresh air and environment, sun, trees, water, sky and just being there! What is your favorite film? “Babette’s Feast” 1987, Denmark. Who would you like to invite for a dinner and why? I’m a typical Libra, both creative and pragmatic. There are a few people I would like to invite for dinner. However, most of them are dead. Toni Onley, watercolour artist, now deceased. We were friends and he did come for dinner. Toni was very open about his thoughts and experiences and shared ideas of which he had many. He was a great Canadian artist, brilliant business person, a good friend, good company, friendly, and generous.
A recommendation for those who think about starting and running a creative business?
Mahatma Ghandi. He had the brilliance to lead the people by following them.
Do the work and the opportunities will appear.
He said “I must follow the people. I am their leader”.
In other words, take some lessons from someone you respect and whose work you
As far as live people go, there is Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, because he is my
age and still rocking. My cousin Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the current president of Estonia for nearly 10 years, because he is truly a genius, having created Estonia into the world’s leading country in e-technology. How do you like to spoil yourself? By swimming, dancing and experimenting with foreign cuisine, cooking and eating, enjoying a couple coconut macaroons, chocolate, having shot of Cognac, having coffee in bed while reading the newspaper. What is luxury for you? Freedom. Freedom to do what I want to do without an agenda. Freedom from financial concerns, chores, and obligations such as the business part of my art. Freedom to explore the world, spend time with my family and friends. Freedom to express what I feel and ask for what I want without judgement. What is the nicest compliment you’ve received for your creative work, and from whom? I receive great compliments from my watercolour students. They like the way I teach which is talking my thought process. For one class in particular, people get up at 6 AM to be able to sign up online by 8 AM. By 12 noon, the class is full! Another compliment in a different form is from Dr Pille Bunnell, who in the publication Cybernetics and Human Knowing,
volume 17, no.4, 2010 quoted “Enda works from an implicit and intuitive instantiation of second order of cybernetics”. It is a bit esoteric but compliments my thinking, planning and observing thoughts and subjects, whether it be landscapes or abstracts from inside my head. Definition of cybernetics: The scientific study of how people, animals, and machines control and communicate information. What do you fear most? Exclusion. My basic fear is not being accepted. What is a happy life to you? Being with my family, (children and grandchildren), and friends, being accepted, cooking foreign cuisine, entertaining, in my home, seeing great art, hearing good music, being outdoors, having had a good swim, good health and having no financial worries. What does a regular day look like for you? My regular day begins around 7 AM with reading the morning newspaper with 2 cups of strong coffee, both of which my husband brings to me in bed. This would be followed by going swimming at the local swimming pool in the cool season, or swimming in the ocean if there is an incoming high tide in the warm season or driving to teach watercolour painting. 413
If there is no class, I check my emails, opportunities to submit artwork, work on my website, edit reference photos, photograph artwork, plan events, search for opportunities, write proposals and submissions, accounting, make blueberry muffins on Wednesdays, make soup, eating lunch on the go, followed by painting in my studio around 1 PM when the good music is on CBC radio2 until 3:30. Then it is back on the computer to load up images, write on my art news and beginning to cook dinner around 5:30, dinner at 6:30 or so while watching the 6 o’clock news, then back to painting or writing or preparing for an exhibition around 8 PM until 10 PM, hot bath and bed by 11 PM. In the Spring and Summer, I go to paint outdoors around 10 or photograph my art work, write proposals and submissions. Tell us about your dream project. My dream project would be to have a big studio in a safe location, with a little gallery in front within walking distance from my home. I would explore many different methods of painting landscapes in an abstract style and architectural images in a hard edge style. Basically keep on exploring and learning about how I can make better art. I would love to be represented by several international galleries. Who is your professional role model/inspira414
tion? My professional role model would be now deceased watercolour painter Toni Onley, who knew how to connect with people, make changes for artists, paint good watercolours, and was a good business person too. There are other artists, like Jack Darcus, whom I have known for about 35 years,very supportive, focused, who said “Do the work and the opportunities will appear”. He has been an artist and filmmaker all his life, working away in his studio, painting in egg tempera, all day long. , How would you describe your work style (academic field or fashion style, or both, or something entirely different)? I have 2 work styles, loose expressionist watercolours and hard edge acrylic abstracts. When I get tired of watercolour after a few years, I switch to acrylics. However, this is not a practical way to create “branding”. I have not been able to settle down in choosing one over the other. Which is the one thing you can’t live without? My family, friends, coffee and music. What inspires you? What inspires me is looking at great art, whether it be by famous artists or emerging artists with great ideas. When I feel down, I go to art galleries to get inspired.
What also inspires me is being outside breathing fresh air, viewing patterns created by light and shadow in nature, hiking in the woods in autumn, painting outdoors. A book that has changed/made the most impression in your life? The book that has touched me the most is a catalogue EESTI KUNST PAGULUSES, (Estonian Art in Exile) from KUMU, the National Art Museum of Estonia in Tallinn, which is a catalogue of paintings by Estonian artists who were either born in Estonia and fled to other countries when Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union, or were artists when they lived there before the occupation. It was a great honour to be invited back to the country from which we fled when I was almost 5 years old, to participate with 2 of my early hard edge abstracts which are now in the permanent collection of the national museum of the country of my birth. When the curators were in Vancouver, searching for Estonian artists, I became friends with them, while touring them around looking for a now deceased artist, Enn Erisalu. When I arrived in Tallinn for the opening, the curators invited me to KUMU to preview the work of 72 Estonian artists from all over the world, mostly from Sweden, Canada and USA. Walking into the Grand Hall at KUMU was an overwhelmingly emotional experience
for me, bringing me to tears! Seeing the work of artists, all of us whom had fled our fatherland, to escape to freedom, took me to a place where time stood still. I was alone in the Grand Hall with the art of my fellow country artists, some of whom ended up in German displaced people’s camp, continuing to do art with whatever materials were available. I was finally connected! I was back to where I belonged and now recognized in the National Museum of Art in the country of my birth, Estonia! The opening reception attended by 600 Estonians, was opened by the President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who also happens to be my cousin. Twenty two of the guests were friends or relatives, having traveled several hours across Estonia from the south and west to honour me at this very significant opening reception! It was an experience which is indelibly placed in my heart! I was the only artist from Canada to attend the opening reception. The rest were too old to travel or deceased. So the catalogue from this event, EESTI KUNST PAGULUSES (Estonian Art in Exile) is the most important book that has an everlasting impression for life! Check out Enda’s awesome website 415
Extreme minds Ever found yourself wondering in what other universe you might have done that thing? You know, that thing which you’d always wanted to do, the thing you dreamed of trying out, that one important thing which you even had about a gazillion chances to pursue, but yet chose not to? Don’t bullshit, you know exactly what it’s about. Now, how come this happens and is there any easy, one-step way out of it?
sets and dedication The asshole called excuse and what to do about it remember the story about the kangaroo who checked out tigers and wanted to be as fast as they? And then practiced, practiced and practiced some more, only to end up eaten up as he tried to compete with an actual tiger? Don’t remember that story? That might have something to do with the fact that we just made it up. Although, the point still stands solid. Going against the universe isn’t going to make anything good come out of the effort. The result’s just another level of insanity, with potential life threatening conditions as a
consequence. Imagine being human and wanting to fly (pre-airplane times) like the birds. So instead of figuring out some sort of device which could help you in that respect, you just climb onto a big ass mountain and then jump. Things won’t work out that well. Because you’re not a bird. You know. Note this though: going against that very universe is not the same thing as pursuing your dreams. At least, it doesn’t have to be. Solid excuses will always hold your back in times of decision making, yet most often it’s not about not being able to do something due to the laws of nature. Mostly, it’s due to the laws of fear. 425
That asshole called comfort zone and how to deal with it Now, as fear approaches, which it tends to do in any sort of real and/or imaginary situation of change – things may get really, badly fucked up. How so? Instead of realizing that your wants and needs and dreams is a part of you, utilizing them constructively and going for something amazing, you back off. Like a little chicken. Here’s where creativity takes over – the amount of excuses referring you right back to some safe spot of safety, as opposed to the new potential deadly, mad dangerous situation, is to damn high. You’ve got all of this comfort here, and who knows what waits for you right over there? You know, the place where you happen to end up once you get off of your butt and start working for yourself. “I know where I’m going and I know the truth, and I don’t have to be what you want me to be. I’m free to be what I want.” – Muhammad Ali What’s even more amazing is that your comfort zone will be supported by many of your closest friends and family, even parts of society that also got themselves a nice 426
little fantasy world to back up. Since they all support each other to legitimize their own (continued) existence, you’re in deep shit as you decide to try to get out of there. Your mindset will be seen as extreme, your dedication will be seen as madness and your energy levels will most likely be secretly admired. Why? Because if your fantasy bubble bursts, so do their ones and then they’ve got to get on with life for real. Which is scary.
The stories and reality – Determination and extreme mindsets in the wrong place So, what happens next? You make up these stories, these whole plots and narratives carefully describing why any other move but those that you’ve been dealing with since way back, is going to ruin you. But that’s not all. You also create these stories on how you’d like the universe to behave, how you’d see yourself if only this and if only that. If that guy wasn’t the boss of this company, then I’d be the boss. I’d do this differently and make some serious world peace happen, if only those assholes running countries now
didn’t do it. “Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.” – Dale Carnegie I’d be rich and famous if I did criminal things like those other guys I see on TV, who’ve definitely done some weird shit to get where they’re at. I could write a book if only. I would read that book if only. My life would be so nice and people would notice me if only. I could have this nice relationship if only that other person would listen to me at all times and see how right I am. And the list goes on ad nauseaum. What is all of that? Yet another nice bunch of excuses, of false truths rambled like a mantra, until at least you yourself start believing in them. Even that is a bad plan, since none of these BS concepts involve any form of happiness in any way, shape or form. Simply put: even if one of these things magically happen, you’ll end up in a unhappy space, still not getting any happiness but totally knowing why that is. Totally. Because of those other people, the world being fucked up, your horoscope, the eggs you had for breakfast etc. etc.
Good guy universe – How going for something might be in your favor There’s this guy called Peter Sage – he’s a well-known entrepreneur and very skilled at speaking about his experience in life. This experience includes all things but excuses, all things seeking to try out what’s going to happen if you only go for what you want in life. In his interview at London Real, he speaks about those things and having the right mindset. “Our own personal growth, our own personal experience, shouldn’t be at the expense of settling for a life that we won’t want to live.” – Peter Sage Have a nice little look at yourself now and try figuring out if you’re where you want to be. Are you happy? Are you satisfied with what you do, with the people around you, with life in general? Maybe yes, maybe no – maybe the answer is no to any of the questions. If that’s the case, then start asking yourself why. Why does that happen? Did you have any chance to make something nice happen in life, where you chose to go the other way around? 427
The comfort zone. Go throw it out right now. There’s no such thing, and the sooner you figure that out, the better off you’ll be at two things. First, you’ll realize that you’re not where you want to be solely because of yourself. Secondly, you’ll get the kick in the butt needed in order to move forward and make those things happen.
This is the first day of your new life Millions of books, articles, scientific research, presentations – all of those things are available and they all speak of the same thing in one way or another. Since we’re far too nice, we’ve created this solid check list to get you started in the right direction: 1. Throw out the damn BS crap you tell yourself and get moving. You’re welcome. It’s not brain surgery, it’s just portrayed that way for useless reasons. Again, the sooner you figure these things out, the sooner you’re going to make happiness happen in life. And, considering the amount of time and effort spent on excuses and story-telling, you’ll free up so much time, you might even write that book.
“Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” – George Orwell
Polarization - WTF? Polarization is occurring in so many fields and current aspects of life that many people really should consider to take a chill pill. Opinionators spread their views all over the place, and this in combination with limited knowledge lead to only one thing â€“ polarization. In the best of cases, this is a temporary occurrence happening during a limited period of time, but then there are those other times when thatâ€™s not the case. Read this article series to find out more about the whole thing on polarization and why itâ€™s relevant to you.
Polarization – What’s going on here? According to wise men (Merriam-Webster Dictionary), polarization is that thing describing the: “a: division into two opposites b: concentration about opposing extremes of groups or interests formerly ranged on a continuum” How many such divisions can you think of if you give it a go? In any normal society or even smaller groups of people, it’s fully reasonable that they will have differing opinions on a broad range of issues. You may like coffee and your best friend will prefer tea, or you might be a right-wing supporter and your wife may be a Leftist. The dynamics created in a place where people are on the very opposite of a continuum in any field or in regards to any question, is what makes change happen. Sometimes, that change leads to a better society, a better individual state, and other
times it leads to conflicts, war and concentration camps. The point is that variations of all sorts is always a better alternative than living in a world where you have to hold a narrow-minded, pre-defined set of preferences. That has been tried out before and such bubbles are in general constructed to burst. What happens in situations when like-minded people are organized into groups are that they often start lobbying to get their message through. Whether it’s one of peace or one of semi-aggressive thought in need of attention, the tools are the same and the approach is similar.
Polarization in society today Now, having the freedom to express those differing issues and to have your ideas being respected is another thing. Individually speaking, your views on a topic 431
may differ from the ones of other people, that’s fine. If you, however, do everything in order to belittle those other people because of them holding the “wrong” opinions – then you just got yourself some polarization skills. Politically, polarization is a handy tool in times of elections. As a political party, you pick a question and then you make sure to do everything you can in order to lead your voters in the direction of sharing your views on that particular issue. How do you do that? By othering. Through using all means in pointing out how the other parties don’t handle that question as smoothly as you do. As you’re focusing on the other parties, pointing out their flaws and issues, you’re indirectly creating yourself, portraying the alternative of you to be the best one for voters all over the country. How great is that? Media helps out a lot too. In order to gain clicks and then cash in on them, media houses do all that they can in order to create debate. Not necessarily a good debate, or even a somewhat intelligent debate, but really anything that could increase views and bring in the money.
Individual vs. collective polarization Now to the fun part. You, as a world citizen, are in the center of all of this crap. Anyone pursuing you to one idea for the cost of another one is trying to polarize you. Convenient, right? Not only that, but most actors dealing with this business are going to repetitively seduce you into believing that what they say makes any sort of sense whatsoever. On the one hand, you may hear that Muslims are terrorists and that those who have an iPhone generally speaking are total assholes. “When politicians start talking about large groups of their fellow Americans as ‘enemies,’ it’s time for a quiet stir of alertness. Polarizing people is a good way to win an election, and also a good way to wreck a country.” ― Molly Ivins On the other hand, you’ll probably be told that if you’re not into veganism you’re basically anti-life and love to torture animals, while also hating humanity if you choose not to have children. As frequent as the above stated seduction attempts may be, they’re not that effective since they speak against something else. Add a little something like “we have the right culture, the free culture, the civilized mindset” to any of those previous state-
ments and you just added attraction to the game. In order to be successful in polarizing, the far best approach is to go individual. What would you say if you had to bla bla bla? Or if your kids were bla bla bla? The approach is individual but the gain is collective. Suddenly, you got yourself a bunch of people totally convinced that someone is talking to them specifically, choosing them and caring about them. It’s like we never learned anything from the Romantic era.
I can’t even. How the fu.. I mean, how are we dealing with all of this? WTF? Well, that’s the thing. The concept of polarization is so frequently used today, that you could tune in any question of preference into the system, and get yourself a polarization strategy. Whether for fun, to gain fame and money or simply to question current norms and concepts, polarization seems to be the current choice of method. Is that great? No. Will it work? Temporarily, yes. What’s going to happen with current international issues and crises? We’ll let you know in the next article in this series. 433
Formal and informal meetings
Ever attended a super-informal meeting, where one person insisted on trying to make it formal? Whether through choice of clothing, vocabulary or simply body language, we’re all signaling the level of distance we wish to have to other people. When used by not thinking, these patterns of behavior signal highly different needs and wants to the people attending the same event. That’s not a great idea, is it?
You are not what you wear – Unless it’s a formal meeting So, you’re at this meeting and the head of the event has set a dress code. S/he needs everyone to be all suited up and act like they’re on an official UN meeting (maybe they really are). Then someone chooses to go hipster and not dress accordingly, instead wearing jeans and a t-shirt/top.
rules during such highly formal meetings isn’t the way to do it. Fucking things up badly by playing the clown in the game isn’t recommended, and telling inappropriate jokes to someone who’s most likely got his head up his ass won’t hold it either. Approaching those people with understanding on the other hand, will get you in a much better position to get your point across. Remember though, dress like you’re at the most important event in your life, be in that emotional state and focus on whatever goal you may have, whatever reason for which you’re there. If you’re not into spending a fortune on a quality suit, go get something OK and then find someone who knows how to use thread and needle, to make those pieces fit you like a glove. Basically, the rule is that as long as it’s custom made and sewn to fit your body perfectly, the material could be garbage plastic bags.
What do you think will happen? A good deal? Any deal? Will this wild and crazy individual even be let into the meeting hall? Probably not. Will there be issues? Probably? Will the follow-up call explaining why this guy didn’t attend the meeting be somewhat inconvenient? You know the answer to that.
There are times when flexibility could lead to straight on success, and breaking the
There are people who analyze the situation before they speak, and then there are the
Inappropriate informality and highly appreciated such – Choose the right thing 435
rest. Those who do will pretty soon into any gathering realize whether there’s room for jokes, what type of jokes, whether there’s space for a story about an adventure or any other form of monologue. Messing that analysis up completely and finding some sort of imaginary space for telling stories won’t lead to anything good but a classification of that person as either a jerk or simply boring. Ignoring the codes here isn’t great. However, if you notice that the main figure at the event is bored and polite, then there’s definitely some room for improvisation in order to bring forth laughs. Or speak about a nice airplane or car or dress or book or whatever seems to be his interest. Sometimes, when annoying people attend these events, it’s far beyond the level of temptation to start an argument of sorts. Again, if that won’t lead to whichever outcome that is the reason for being there in the first place, then it’s not worth it. If you however, happen to be there by chance, and don’t have anything to lose by expressing exactly what’s on your mind, then by all means – go for it and enjoy it to the fullest. If you’re really pissed off and can’t wait to get your point across, then a body language inspired by any Shakespeare play is recommended. 436
When formality hijacks the fun – Crash the party like a pro A small change in your vocabulary, if you feel the timing to be right, may be what separates you from the rest of the attendees – in a highly positive way. In formal meetings, it’s next to a given that there will be people who are going to try to amaze the rest of the crowd by talking. As in a lot. As in never stopping, creating migraines in all of those other people who will either be assholes or shut up about it. If you then step up, and deal with the situation in a diplomatic way, you’re the boss of the situation. “When you invite the whole world to your party, inevitably someone pees in the beer. – Xeni Jardin” That’s noticeable, especially for the most important individual in the room, the person you’re really there to see and with whom you’d like to hold a conversation. The same thing goes for when attending semi-casual meetings. What many people forget is that although being casual, those event will not be a kindergarten bullshit event just for killing time, but an actual professional gathering. Develop a sensibility towards people and
behavior. Remember that Darwin guy and his theory about the survival of the fittest – the one who sees reality as it is and then acts from there. Be that person and you’ll be walking away successfully from any meeting. Note though, knowing when to conform to a situation is as important as knowing when to crash the party. In some cases, there’s next to no room for improvisation, and although there’s always room for saving someone’s ass when they mess up – sometimes, that room is very small. In order to crash the party like a pro, that sensibility will be your guide. Do it with style.
Want to go to the dark side of the web?
As more people transfer their lives from IRL to online, it might be an awesome idea to get to know the web some more. Most people can count the amount of frequently visited websites on two hands, but how about the rest of it? What about the huge network of coding that creates a depth of multiple dimensions online? Check out this series if you’d like to know more about what the deep web is all about and why you might want to stay updated about it.
What’s so cool about the deep web and why is it even your problem? As you could read here, the dark web is a pretty interesting place, with tens of thousands of users and many interesting topics being covered. People usually seek out the dark (or deep) web in order to guarantee anonymity, although this is not the end goal for quite a few of them, but rather a tool. Some fora in the deep web are used for discussing politics, sensitive issues, covering topics which the current freedom of speech and right of expression don’t really support. Although they should. This is always a tricky business, since freedom to discuss topics seriously requires access to data – you know, the most often classified type of data. “There is so much that people take for
granted.” – Vivienne Westwood Now, as you surf around your favorite websites, you may think that you’re pretty much anonymous, or that your particular activity isn’t much of anyone’s concern. It’s the classical “I’ve got nothing to hide so please feel free to check me out” case. This mindset is lovely, yet it’s important to keep in mind that freedom isn’t a given right – this saying is more relevant than ever today. In order to guarantee freedom, you’ve got to demand it and use it to maintain it. As soon as your freedom is compromised, there should be a reaction. Since every current way of living, every norm, rule, regulation and constitution, is constantly adjusted and reconstructed – the level of consciousness towards where you yourself are in all of this could make your life much easier.
What about international relations and the deep web? The internet has no national borders – well, at least they’re not as restrictive as those IRL. Even more so, the deep web is definitely free from the borders we are used to and all that they imply – control over movement, selectively categorizing inflow and outflow, registering ID numbers and travel patterns, and other fun things.
Even those who aren’t keen on traveling and exploring new places, or may not have the opportunity to do so, are very much into international relations as soon as they are connected. The nicest part of this is that international relations in its very core, its very basis, do not have restrictions and regulations.
But it all starts with people. It is people who are representatives for themselves first and foremost, and considering the increasing activity on the deep web, we’ve now got a spot where debates are free.
The deep web is thus very much an international dimension highlighting many of the great aspects of communication and discussions between people who do not share cultural, national, religious or any other form of background.
With this, of course, comes great responsibility and many new awesome opportunities. Since the borders are pretty much lost in the deep web, many aspects of real life that are being taken for granted, is not anymore. Seen from a perspective of opportunities, this way of interacting could balance out the madness of extreme political and religious emphasis, both of which were long insisted upon. Well, up until this very day.
“Sacrificing anonymity may be the next generation’s price for keeping precious liberty, as prior generations paid in blood.” – Hal Norby What they share, is the search for debate, the need for expression and pure curiosity. They choose to learn about the deep web in order to be able to communicate with like-minded individuals, and even those who do not share their point of view. There’s no need for diplomacy and hiding secrets here, only the promise of anonymity. Which is the other part of international relations. Often, it’s assumed that this is what happens between state representatives or in the modern world, representatives of any organization operating in different parts of the world. 440
“Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.” – Albert Einstein
“My own opinion is enough for me, and I claim the right to have it defended against any consensus, any majority, anywhere, any place, any time. And anyone who disagrees with this can pick a number, get in line, and kiss my ass.” ― Christopher Hitchens As people feel the freedom to express themselves, sharing concerns, theories, ideas and prejudice freely, there’s a huge potential for great outcome. As you know that you’re not being watched, that every step online isn’t being analyzed in some Big Data behavioral pattern study and that the words you write aren’t potentially harming you IRL, imagine the possibilities.
“I may not agree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to make an ass of yourself.” ― Oscar Wilde Suppressing people of other beliefs and holding other ideas has never in our history been shown to be a good way of handling anything. Quite the opposite. Nothing invites for wars and conflicts as suppressing and neglecting people’s rights to be who they are and live calmly as they wish. Therefore, the deep web, as unstructured and unknown it may be, could be one of the far best conflict prevention systems currently available.
The mystique of our time – The deep web as a story-teller Another fascinating aspect of the web and especially the deep web, is how the human preference for stories takes shape. Ever since we know of ourselves as humans, we’ve shared stories with each other so as to teach, laugh, ease up a hard day, intrigue, and scare off potential harmful behaviors. The mystical aspect of those stories has been present despite our upgraded tools for sharing them. The letter and the written word didn’t remove any of it, nor did the visual sharing of still images and moving photos lead to a decreased need for mystics.
Despite living in separate areas of the world, quite similar stories involving magic, taboos, rituals, myths and divinity have been shared among people. As the deep web emerged in the 2000’s, what happened almost instantaneously was the outburst of stories about what there is to find in this deep web. In line with stories covering some scary code that nobody has seen but everyone has heard of, the deep web has also been a victim of pretty huge exaggerations in terms of what’s actually out there. As on the surface web (the one where most of us hang out on a regular basis), there’s pretty messed up content to find if you specifically look for it. on the other hand, people who hang out in the deep web (especially allegedly the dark parts in particular), are describing the fora and data sharing sites as being totally insane, spicing up every word in a sentence to make the whole story sound next to unbelievable, next to madness. If you’d like to get yourself a few urban legends to go, simply search for “deep web” on Google or any other search engine – it’s entertaining and a much better choice than current reality shows.
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” – H. P. Lovecraft
As it seems, mythology and mystique are here to stay, in all shapes and sizes. The deep web isn’t an exception and as this dimension of the online world is more highlighted to regular people, we’ll see many more new stories and scary legends emerging to entertain our beautiful need for all things mystical. Did you enjoy this article? If you did, stay tuned for next week as we connect the deep web to international crime and the future of this interesting place! Oh, and read the first one here.
Whatâ€™s the difference between a killer and another killer?
Ignoring sensitive issues won’t make them go away It’s always tricky to speak of issues that currently involve criminal activity, and this on several political levels. On the other hand, being naïve and hanging on a thin line of wishful thinking won’t do much good either. Choosing sides seems so natural, so very much accepted by the large part of basically any society, but how wise is it and is the question really about choosing sides?
Murderers, heroes, killers, role models, soldiers, perpetrators, defenders, defended, conquerors, victims, stories, vision, end result, new beginning. This is basically what happens in any serious international conflict, ever. Choosing a side is crucial to make sense of an issue in which two or more parties have decided to slaughter each other, but what if you don’t? What if you instead have a good, hard look at the whole mad idea of solving conflicts like that? Who knows, maybe even doing something in order to prevent them from occurring in the first place?
Stamping on a few toes here and there – A killer is a killer Somewhat obvious, isn’t someone who commits a murder, or a killing, for whatever reason he might have, a killer? Or does it take a good story in order to be free from all responsibility? Imagine you’re out shopping and standing in line to get your milk and eggs, you’re suddenly far too provoked for your own good. By what? By a dude standing a few people ahead of you, because he bought fat free milk and you think that’s a disgrace to humanity. 445
So you just take out your gun and shoot him. People around you will most likely do something to get that gun away from you, screaming and shouting and throwing things at you. Someone will call the police and they will catch you, while the ambulance will take care of the victim. “An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
milk are thrown around the place, ending up in a bloodbath where all involved are killed. Since the authorities didn’t really care for solving the issue in the first place, what’s reported by the media is the outburst of a serious conflict and a mass killing. Due to milk.
To stop with further dumbing things down, this example is fully legitimate because it’s about values. Although some may be conIn a normal situation, you will be prosecuted sidering the milk issue as a big, idiotic piece and sentenced for killing a guy due to fat of subject to kill each other over, there are free milk issues, which is pure fucking madfar more dumb things for which people are ness. You’ll pay your fair share in jail and dying and killing now. have quite some time to think about the infantile way of dealing with a conflict, or whatever you’d like to call that. Now, imagine instead that you killed that guy, and half of the people in line started cheering. They screamed supportive things to you, hugging you, waving with flags with your favorite full fat milk and some even started compose music for you specifically. You’re a hero, a savior, someone making things great again. The other half of the crowd are deeply scared and angered about what you did, and what your people now are doing. You killed one of theirs, and this will be held against you by the good old human tradition of payback. They run into the cheerful crowd and start kicking ass. Guns and knives and all sorts of 446
Differences or similarities – It’s a thin line
Only a simple minded human being with a jeopardized set of values could ever consider conflicts involving such measures as legitimate. That is to say, if they consider them even for a second, hinting a somewhat honest implication of wishing to actually solve the conflict and not prove some sort of point. “Dad, how do soldiers killing each other solve the world’s problems?” ― Bill Watterson You know, the kind that seeks only to legitimize the action of one side and dismiss the actions taken by the “enemy”. Let’s not get
all philosophical here (this time), but even considering the possibility of both groups (or however many they may be) having a story which they believe in is better if the wish to solve an issue like that is genuine. Which clearly is not the case in most situations.
What to do about the current state of mind? Observing and reporting is lovely, but it always comes with a large dose of opinions to go with it. It’s like the extra rice you get with your Chinese takeaway that you didn’t ask for, but have no choice now but to carry with you. Analyzing a situation and refusing the temptation of including own beliefs and views is difficult, that’s why you have to look long and hard in order to find such an article. In terms of reports, the statistics are little better and go more in favor of reason and less in that of emotional states of mind. However, they are often very much dead boring to read so not many people actually do it.
“Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Communication has always proved to be a good idea in changing states of mind, if it’s open and honest. It doesn’t even have to change them, but questioning their current value systems and short-sighted perspectives. Therefore, communication about honesty and openness is probably a good starting point in even the smallest of potential issues. As a colorful example, radicalization isn’t a thing that happens to Muslims because of their religious beliefs or due to some sort of radicalization gene. There’s a far more complex system behind such a phenomenon and degrading it to be a question about one aspect is ridiculous. Not only that, it’s deeply disrespectful to science, to the research of wise people whose philosophical theories has moved our societies forward. They aren’t flawless, but be sure that nobody would like to move back to the times of Paleolithic lifestyles (even though some aspects of it is hot topic, such as the whole food thing). The current level of bitch slaps handed out by various experts in the field of conflict analysis, international relations, journalism and basically anyone in charge of a social media profile is to damn high. With a level of understanding so primitive that apes in the jungle aren’t even impressed, we as human beings don’t really have much to brag about today. 447
If you sit back and relax, for one short second considering the question on which one of two or more groups (currently killing each other over stories) are most right â€“ do you really have an answer to that question? Or is the answer another question, namely this one â€“ what in the most holy fuck of all current fucks available is that question really about?
Polarization - WTF? Polarization is occurring in so many fields and current aspects of life that many people really should consider to take a chill pill. Opinionators spread their views all over the place, and this in combination with limited knowledge lead to only one thing â€“ polarization. In the best of cases, this is a temporary occurrence happening during a limited period of time, but then there are those other times when thatâ€™s not the case. Read this article series to find out more about the whole thing on polarization and why itâ€™s relevant to you.
How polarization affects the current migration crisis As you know by now, variety is great and nobody would ever want to live in a world where all people agreed on everything. Debate is healthy, and so is disagreement. However, when disagreement is strategically placed or invited for, in order to create or strengthen a conflict, that’s when things get shitty. Since people, citizens of [insert country name of preference] get certain preferences that come along with a citizenship, it’ fairly easy to create a story in order to connect two dots together with that citizenship at its core. Too much BS? Have a look: You’ve got that fancy citizenship and currently enjoy living in a country where everything is solid. Let’s say you were born in that very country, so you pretty much take many things for granted. Every-
thing works, so why would you think about it? Well, as the world is a pretty dynamic place, you suddenly find yourself in a situation where issues arise – not in your country, but in other countries. That’s not too much of a big deal either, but as things get shitter abroad, it will start affecting other countries, yours included. That’s when certain extremist groups start getting louder, as they now do have the perfect opportunity to accuse the current ruling party in your country of being an asshole. All that they’ve done is created all this mess which you didn’t want yet you’ve got it and now there’s only one party who really cares for you and it’s those extremist guys. Now, misunderstand this correctly. All extreme groups do this, there’s no color or sign or particular political orientation to blame more than any other. All assholes which choose to exploit the human concept of fear in order to create problems, lying to those people by assuring them on 451
some BS potential future fairytale nation – they are all part of the same assholery mindset.
Extremists have always enjoyed using tools for separating people You know it, they’ve done it since forever. Using regular people, working long and hard to influence them negatively, has always been the choice of preference for asshole extremist groups. They recruit through manipulation and gain support in times when international issues have gone out of hand in being described as “manageable”. The very point, often erased from all debates is the one on never actually being able to manage a situation. International issues, as national as well, do include a huge set of promises, ideas, personal interests, lost data, fabricated numbers and strategic political moves which aren’t all set on the table for everyone to see. This is always the case, even when there’s no major issue to bitch about. The very difference between “always” and when there indeed is an issue to bitch about, is the power shift towards extreme groups. Not much is as comforting as someone giving you a tap on the shoulder, letting you know that everything is going to be OK. 452
Especially when that special someone is a mythological figure, a hero popping out of nowhere solely for your good, to make your life better. Because he and his friends with funny signs and jackets really got this sudden urge to care for you. You in particular. Because of your hair, your wage, your genetics, your religion, your gastronomic preference or whatever. Suddenly, you start making sense out of someone telling you stories about the world and who’s taking your welfare away from you. It’s the simple picture. The embarrassing, ridiculous, infantile picture. But in order for you to understand the big picture, you would’ve wanted to do so in times of calmness as well. It’s the circle of life right there, or better – the circle of polarization.
A new wave of polarization forming online? The easy-explanation preference to all things complex has gone out of hand online as well, only confirming the attraction that simple-minded solutions have to people in a state of fear. In one single sitting you can get introduced to so many white supremacist, Che Guevara lovers, vegan fighters and religious evangelists of all sorts – you’ll start to question humanity.
They know the truth because someone told them, and they’re here to let you know that either you’re with them – fighting for the universally right mindset – or you need to be converted/educated/killed. It’s the methodology concept of a rock, with the intelligence quota of a door and a stick combined. With an impressive level of passion and a rock solid determination to change the world, these heroes are going to tell you what you never knew that you had to know. For your own good, of course. In all of this delegating, educating, purifying and perfecting, they will also introduce you to the power of blaming others. Being scientific geniuses as they all are, they will not hesitate to bring you sources to legitimize every statement they make. Never mind that those sources include some angry man’s blog, white pride fora, documents from some non-existing professor, and a whole bunch of he said she said crap to go along with the “data”. Online communities have gained so much support in the past years, so that institutions are now really working on finding ways to investigate their activity. These guys now discuss operations, ideas and make plans via social media platforms, appealing to
the center of the universe, a free gift with no catches” like a PDF packed with information. Because you’re special and nothing’s ever your fault. The new wave of polarization taking place online is even better than this regular one – it recruits regular people in helping them spread their propaganda. Covered as “REAL TRUE INFO”, people feel the responsibility to spread it, to be on the good side of things and to make free speech happen for real. Whilst ignoring all that is free speech, all of that which aims to solve current social and political issues. Furthermore, the impressive total ignorance of previous propaganda campaigns (communist ones or Nazi ones, pick one yourself) and the current similarities to groups of today operating online is fabulous. Now, would you like to know what other semi-organized and organized groups do in order to counter-balance these polarizing extremists, and how that’s going for them? You will find that out, along with much more in the next article in this series.
regular people through social media campaigns and free ebooks. Nothings says, “Hi I’m sincere and would like to give you, 453
Talking much, eh? Here’s
The power of knowing when
Communication is the key to human development. Speaking of verbal communication in particular, the ability to use our voice to express ourselves has been the far most useful tool in modern interaction. We sing, we talk, and we do so in a fascinating amount of varying ways. Some of those ways may not turn out to be the most eloquent of timings, choice of words and tones of voice – leading to somewhat inconvenient situations. How shall a human being with good intentions deal with all of that?
Have a chat – When to say what you think and how to go by Any interaction involving people includes a huge set of real-time analytical moments 454
and strategies for which there isn’t too much time. In a job interview, it’s not as though you could pause the conversation for 15 minutes, draw a model for successfully replying to a question and then press “play” again to get the job done. There are thousands of books, articles and courses available to improve communication skills of all sorts, emphasizing everything from having a clear goal, to preparing by writing your words of choice down before actually saying them out loud. Of course, depending on the situation, some methods might be more useful than others, even exceeding your expectations and making happy happen big times. In other cases, a promised method for communicating will prove to be the worst choice mankind has ever experienced in terms of verbally expressing yourself.
s when to shut the h*ll up
n (not so) say the right thing
That naturally leads to the question of how to choose the right tool in communicating. Well, first of all, the best way of making anything work is to simplify it – that is, cut the BS. All of it. All time wasted on developing a strategy for talking to another human being is going to fail if you’re not clear on one basic aspect – the one you’re talking to is another human being. “A question that sometimes drives me hazy: am I or are the others crazy?” – Albert Einstein Therefore, choosing whatever strategy, whichever choice of words, will only be a success if it’s all authentic. Which it isn’t if it has been practiced down to every single syllable. So keep that on a reasonable level and leave plenty of room for improvisation. If you find yourself to be in a situation where you’ve got the perfect timing to state
what’s on your mind, but it wasn’t planned in your model for how to make this particular conversation happen – what’s the best choice, to go on or to stick to the model? You know the answer to that question.
Shutting up when you’ve got a great set of words at the tip of your tongue Keeping in mind that people have a fairly advanced BS detector by default, reality could be an amusing place in times of communication. Sometimes, you’ll find yourself in situations where you’d really like to point out the idiocy of another human being, someone’s mad point of view or maybe even someone’s inability to perform whatever task they’re performing. That’s not always a great idea, especially
when considering the reasons for why you’d like to do it. If your remark will help improve a situation, and your choice of words will be of the supportive kind, then go ahead. The conversation may be a bit uncomfortable at first, but will pretty quickly move onto a mutual understanding of sharing a common goal. However, when you’re really pissed the F off, the choice of words aren’t of the friendly sort. You may have the urge to use bad words, to say something about someone’s behavior reminding you of a certain body part, even pointing out something about someone’s mother or other family members. Regardless of how therapeutic such a choice may be in the short run, long-term thinking is usually the best mindset to use if the goal of communicating is to do so successfully. If you’re mighty pissed off and completely indifferent to the outcome, then go for it.
Evolving a sensibility for language and verbal communication Verbally flipping out could be a fun way of ending one chapter of your life, but it’s not 456
the way of dealing with everyday situations. We’re highly interconnected today, and this means adding several layers of aspects to consider when talking to someone. Cultural backgrounds can be sensitive issues for some people, while others may not enjoy discussing religious or political aspects of life. Someone who is travelling a lot might evolve a short sight for other costumes, while others may gain a huge understanding for people and societies. What differentiates people is one aspect to keep in mind when talking, but even more important is understanding what we all have in common. Everyone likes authenticity, as is the case with respect and attentiveness. Even when an initial interaction gets out of hand, referring to those common values usually influences everyone involved in the chat to get back in business. This is why the one and only important aspect of communicating successfully is evolving a sensibility for all things communication.
Want to go to the dark side of the web?
As more people transfer their lives from IRL to online, it might be an awesome idea to get to know the web some more. Most people can count the amount of frequently visited websites on two hands, but how about the rest of it? What about the huge network of coding that creates a depth of multiple dimensions online? Check out this series if you’d like to know more about what the deep web is all about and why you might want to stay updated about it.
Will the deep web continue to serve as a criminal freezone? Well, first of all, it’s not the deep web but the dark part of that deep web which currently serves for a broad variation of criminal activity. From selling illegal drugs and services including assassination to filming murders, rape and supporting pedophilia, some fora in this part of the web is beyond what words could ever describe. This area invites the complete disgrace of humanity, the small part of which are the vicious, mean, disgusting and worthless criminal individuals. In January of this year, Hackread wrote about an FBI operation in which the tech guys investigated the Tor browser, leading to catching thousands of pedophiles. In March, Security Affairs wrote about an analysis by TrendMicro, in which they outlined the ecosystem of the cybercriminal
underground communities. Unfortunately, there are six huge ecosystems currently active in the deep web, located in North America, Japan, Russia, China, Brazil and Germany. The analysis indicated a strategic cooperation between groups from within the various ecosystems, supporting and enabling a broad range of criminal trade opportunities. As countries do emphasize the importance of investigative projects online in general and within the dark web in particular, there’s a good chance for criminal associations of various sorts to start shivering. Especially those involved in trafficking of people, that’s a rather sensitive subject and one for which the common public has no tolerance whatsoever. As opposed to drugs of all sorts, where there’s actually debates on whether the whole “war on drugs” initiation by the US and spreading to most western counties is actually making any sense. If this discussion turns out to be in favor of rethinking that project, then the dark web section involved in drug trade will get erased pretty quickly.
What assholes support the criminal activity in the dark web? As IRL, the dark web is a small place within the online world, where a bunch of assholes hang out to trade and share criminal things 459
of all sorts. The consumers are those which real societies are constantly trying to profile, and which the cultural world is highly intrigued by to portray. People, those who aren’t involved in these activities, are exposed to these stories (at times on the verge of being mythological) where monsters are described in such a way that their human aspect is next to erased. A human being couldn’t be so far from doing something disgusting, dangerous, destructive and criminal, right? What happens when these profiles are normalized, online or IRL, is that people aren’t prone to identifying the assholes conducting crimes in their neighborhood. Because they don’t look like monsters, they eat cake like normal people, they may have a dog, enjoy flowers, and/or live in their parents’ basement. Sensitive as this topic may be, this is one of the reasons why as when a pedophile is caught by the police, having done tremendous damage to children, something which they will carry with them for the rest of their lives, the neighborhood is shocked. They couldn’t believe it.
The future of the deep web Once again, keeping in mind that the deep web and the dark part of it are two different things, the future of the deep web 460
could go in various directions depending on the dominant activity. If the deep web is used for open, free discussions on topics that current governments in some (read: all) countries aren’t too happy to chat about, then the future will be awesome. Finally a spot of free speech, of ideas freely shared without being scared of being watched. As we’ve seen all over the world, where people have been fired because of their social media comments and Facebook posts, the deep web may continue to be the spot where your comments will be just that – your comments. No need for Papa Moral to point fingers and act a parent, thanks. On the other hand, things may also get totally out of control. The dark web guys staying active, their activities continued to be realized IRL and the same level (or less) of criminal investigations being done could lead to the whole deep web getting into deep shit. Collective punishment is highly popular nowadays, and there’s a slight risk of that thing happening to the deep web in the coming future. It’s a question of which side will win the battle – the people respecting free speech and freedom of expression, and those criminal assholes conducting what they call their business. Did you enjoy this article? If you did, then you should read the other two ones in this
series here and here.
When your values get kicked right in the nuts by “experts” Have you ever been in a situation where your opinions didn’t matter, simply because you didn’t have a fancy educational background? Lacking that shiny paper gets some of those individuals holding one to go completely ecstatic, especially in places where hierarchy is still a thing. Every argument is won by default, but really – how degrading are these academic titles today? 462
But they wrote studies and articles and all of that…? Academic papers, titles and generating knowledge Once respectable, academic papers are today highly questionable. There are two main reasons for this situation: The first is the fact that most educational systems (higher education) are standardized, to suit what was a “rapid pace” in the 50s. We’re not in the 50s anymore. Secondly, and even more important so, is the fact that many individuals holding higher degrees in various fields (both social and natural sciences, to a much lesser extent the tech ones) are taking sides even before graduating. In plain English, this means that the folks attending universities today do so to confirm their own standpoint in a question, not to explore and investigate issues with an open mind. Not everyone, but the rotten eggs are stinking more and more. Simply looking at the way in which a doctoral degree is written, the formal part for the framework) tells everything.
As writing (and especially getting published in a respected journal) is a crucial thing in order to receive a higher degree today, there is naturally a lot (!) of writings out there. Articles, references, words, papers, dissertations, more words and more articles – all carefully categorized and searchable whenever you feel the urge. In order to write those things, the most important part is the look. Yes, it needs to look like a paper someone with a degree would write. So, synonyms, a lot of quotations and references, a militant framework and no room whatsoever to hold any original thought will get you far. It has been made so obvious, to the point of someone actually creating a postmodern essay generator where these solid pieces of …….. are created automatically each time you refresh the page. If ever in need of an intelligent topic to discuss with your Doc friends, that’s the place to look for inspiration.
Values chewed and spit- Current pseudo-values ted out by postmodern BS crap and insincere systems authenticity Using big words to create scientific report is all good, and having a shiny framework
Oh, you know it all – when someone gets pissed off to the level of going at you per-
is more than beautiful, really. However, the issues begin where the openness of a mind ends, which in this case usually is right over there in the question section. That is, when you ask these people something even slightly critical, they will go bananas on your ass.
sonally. It’s next to surprisingly interesting how susceptible these people are to a little curiosity from “the mass”. Whether in personal conversations or in public debates, people who find their self-worth to be connected to their perceived amount of knowledge don’t take critical comments lightly.
First, you obviously didn’t understand the research paper that they wrote. Obviously. Second, your question is irrelevant in its pure nature, because Doc said so. And third, since you’re not as educated as s/he is, it’s more than legit to dismiss your whole existence, including everything you say.
Even more so, some of these educated folks do enjoy to be noticed and thus do everything they can in order for it to happen. The opportunities are endless, with corporations and political parties always in need for experts to prove some sort of qualified point. In this case, when critical views are presented, the experts dismiss and ridicule the unwanted views with the backup of significant actors.
Jokes aside, this is actually occurring in many circles where hierarchy is even a little respected. That is, the kind of hierarchy determined only by the amount of shiny papers in your possession, never mind your actual knowledge base. Even better, if you by any chance are one of those people with values, who respects and holds them by your heart, then you’re even worse off.
How great is that? Suddenly, anything could be the truth and the whole truth, without much opposition. Yet, as the latter grows, it can most definitely and once again all be dismissed through the power of “shiny paper”. That’s what most of today’s authenticity looks like today.
Dealing with assholes and their claim on values and knowledge The question anyone should ask themselves is how to deal with these people. If you’ve got a shiny paper with a title yourself, then that’s basically the only thing you need to shut these people up. But if you don’t have that, then simply doing everything you can to avoid starting discussions with those folks is a great idea.
that produced “knowledge”. As far as your values (and knowledge) go, well, you know what you hold closely to your heart. There’s no self-proclaimed expert in the world, no “fact-based knowledge”, no shiny paper and no amount of Retweets whatsoever that could and should change that. Only you yourself.
Since values and logic isn’t to what they subscribe, trying to engage in a chat and using those tools won’t get you in a solid position. It will most likely create an un-nice sensation of “get-me-out-of-here” thoughts and a little passive-aggressive notions added to that. So, what is there to do? Choose the people you’d like to hold a chat or debate or conversation with wisely. That’s about it. If we’re talking a public figure trying to make false knowledge legit in order to sell an idea or a product of some sort, then use channels in order to indirectly (not in person) show that this guy is wrong, big times. This is because shortly after that, as people notice, they will make the decision to dismiss that expert talk themselves, thereby putting that pro genius in an inconvenient position. Which will (hopefully) be followed by a resignation and withdrawal of all of
A logical paradox –
When someone else tells you how you’re feeling Thinking is hard, but what’s even harder is noticing when that belief of being in a thinking state of mind is reduced to a belief only. That’s when shit hits the fan. Put in a more eloquent language, it is in this very moment before realization that you and all people are prone to listening to other people’s theories about things that aren’t their business. 466
Why do we enjoy to do paradoxes somuch? People are rather funny beings and many times in life, a paradox is what happens to the reasoning. Suddenly, you’re in the middle of a tough, high-intensity workout but you’re still indeed muching on a big donut after the whole thing. Or, you’re not a racist, but…. You’re not a feminist, but…. You’re not in favor of people spending their lives playing video games, but…. And so the story goes on. One of the most fun paradoxes to which everyone from time to time subscribes, is the one on lying to oneself. Yes, you keep telling yourself that you’ll learn another language, but not lifting a finger (or, pronouncing a vowel) to make it happen. But, you’re still confidently telling yourself the story on being in the process of learning a language.
Of course you are. Then there’s the other big lie on being awfully busy. People seem to be busier than ever before – not having the time to relax, to do nothing, to stay off of the computer, to stop watching cute cat videos. That’s a big issue to so many people, to the point of leading to burnouts and severe stress reactions. Following that, there’s the common consequence of sleep deprivation and using various medications (and caffeine) in order to try to stay awake – to be able to stay busy some more. Paradoxes seem to make people’s lives easier, and sometimes that works out well for a while. An alcoholic can use the argument of not really being one for some years, but sooner or later he’ll figure out that this is what he actually is. When the energy levels are emptied in lying to yourself, that’s the moment in life where you’ll 467
have to truly face yourself and all which that implies.
Belief in irrational things in political terms – Why are we pursued so easily? Political parties and their members use the power of paradoxes in their favor, winning votes and getting the gift of running a country for a limited amount of time. The promises given to citizens, the arguments against voting for other parties, the choosing of a main issue to focus on and the serious amount of marketing done by these members is rather impressive. Focusing on one important issue, like the schools and education in one country, is what could lead a party to win an election in a country, if the marketing is done well. This is determined by how well the party’s members are acquainted with behavioral psychology and social impact. If they are good, they are able to promote an issue to people in such a way that they feel the instant urge of changing things, this thing in particular, and will therefore be more and more susceptible to influence from these guys. Like a perfect circle, potential voters will 468
then accept further elaboration from this party about this particular issue, leading to one point in which they will solidly affect people’s emotions. This is to say, suddenly, you’re as passionate as ever about the educational system in your country – never mind that you haven’t ever been into it at all before. Or the oil market. Or the refugee crisis. Or the urgent lack of cheese in shops in a small town somewhere in your country.
Connecting all sorts of dots to all things paradox International relations is funny business. At times, when things doesn’t seem to be anywhere close to great, some head of state somewhere will insist it on being very much great indeed. In other cases, the opposite will happen and you’ll hear that despite feeling great about things, everything’s basically shit. In this total confusion, normal people are caught up on that thin line to which some refer as being what separates madness from genius. Are you to believe what you hear or what you see, how you feel and how others around you feel?
If you’re friends with someone with brown hair (and you’ve got red hair), then you’d feel really mad about a third person coming up to you and telling you how you two aren’t friends at all. Because whatever. You won’t buy that, but most likely will end up using bad, bad words to let this weird ass person know where to kindly go. It’s not a ridiculous example if the example is put into the right context. As many people today laugh about the propaganda machines (and how people could buy into all that crap) before and during WWII, simply reading a little history will make you understand how far from ridiculous any of that was.
When you’re told what to think Imagine if some asshole like that ran your country. What would that look like? Well, you’d hear that the current deficit isn’t occurring because of political incompetence, but due to refugees, tomatoes, tingly sensations in sensitive areas or simply complicated math stuff. That’d be weird and totally impossible, right? Imagine then, that as you are being told what to focus on by different political parties in your country, there are other things,
other issues, just lying around. Maybe there are thousands or tens or thousands of people in your country that don’t have access to enough food, yet you’re being told (and believe) that the main issue for your country is whether you’ll build a new railway station or a new national football arena. This is a bit ridiculous too, isn’t it? Then, you may even be told that the reason your country needs to get out of a regional union of some sort is because of all of the refugees, never mind the other thousands of benefits gained by being in such a union. At times, you might even be convinced that the main issue of your life has something to do with religious or ethnic differences, not the fact that your house is in desperate need of renovation, or that you need to fix your car. Or your emotions.
There are so many ways in which to fail logic As you can see, the fascinating amounts in which to fail logic are impressive. Not only that, but they occur regularly and most human beings are susceptible to falling into that path of reasoning quite frequently. Whether it concerns political, national aspects or international relations, personal issues or relationship concerns, there’s no 469
limit to the number of times that people find themselves splashing around in a pond without realizing what they’ve been doing for so long. Logic is a big part of life, especially the part of it which is successful. Failing this impactful method of thinking, failing reason, is what keeps assholes on the political frontier, and it is what distracts people from their own life problems and right into some bullshit. Someone else may take the right to define and let you know how you feel, but at the end of the day you’re in charge of making the final decision – to buy into it or stay away from all of those attempts.
Dipomacy 2.0 – In th
Why you’re representing someth
It’s funny how despite development taking place, some sectors on the international frame are determined to conduct business the good old ways. Speaking of old, as new technology emerges, staying in a backward state of mind when looking at the world isn’t going to make much sense – nor will the strategies and implementation of that mindset. As we’re interconnected as never before, how has the diplomatic arena changed and has there maybe been a shift in power of some sort?
The good ol’ diplomatic ways of communicating Before the communication infrastructure went through the latest revolution (that is, the IT one), several aspects of communicating were reserved for diplomats, representatives, negotiators and experts. Political figures, state representatives and foreign policy professionals had the full authority to define what is to be seen as important when speaking of inter-state communication, leaving little room for public speculation. Then media found its way to the spotlight and did so by questioning some of these definitions. Although staying careful and cautious not to step on anyone’s toes, journalism shifted a bit from being a tool of only
he age of online life
hing whether youâ€™d like to or not presenting the governmentâ€™s statements, to actually analyzing them. From this then, a lot of interesting things occurred, one of them being the concept of investigative journalism in which now (some) professionals understood the importance of taking the side of the public. Not staying in a naĂŻve state of mind, there were a lot more of those who found it to be extremely satisfying to simply stay safe and keep reporting things blindly, but those smart(er) ones managed to invite the public to question, reason, think. Now, another aspect of this development was how diplomacy changed. Suddenly, not only were political representatives of all sorts obliged to think before they speak in official meetings with each other, but also in communicating to the public all of the
news and progress of value. No nice suit and reference to self-proclaimed authority could longer be the sole argument for why these peeps were right, as if that happened by default. Then, suddenly, all of the fun began.
The time aspect and reaction outline Before the internet, things took time. If a diplomatic representative stated something ridiculous or offensive, then it took a while for all parties involved to get their shit together and present a viewpoint on the matter. As you know, this is not the case today. 473
With internet, things has gotten much more interesting, almost like a reality show in which you get the fantastic opportunity to follow your choice of representative around all day, all night. Not only that, but you also get to do the same with all other representatives or potential representatives, at times even communicating with them directly.
change things for the better.
As important infrastructural development occurs, so does the power distribution within a country shift a bit. From holding a monopoly on media and diplomacy, these things are now in a process of becoming democratized.
As this new level of power is very much intriguing and inviting, there’s this little note to consider before actually getting into discussions with political figures, representatives and all other folks involved in relations on a local, national, regional or global level.
Time is of huge relevance to any political ambition, and as time is divided more openly, on a frame where everyone who is interested has the access to data and information, things get way trickier than before that.
That is, the language and the tone of voice. Being completely taken for granted IRL, for various reasons people tend to lose all manners online. They go bananas, they use insults and accusations, they shout out names and ridicule. Not all, but many.
As political representatives suddenly find themselves in a more difficult position, so do regular citizens also go through a state of change. As normal, regular people get an invitation to be more active and question more in the political world of things, the level of success depends on their willingness to do so.
Although this serves a purpose indeed, as every voice deserves to be heard no matter what, there’s a bunch of strategy tools to consider before writing things down. Basically, it all comes down to a bunch of questions, the following four ones covering the basics:
That is, to actually get off of their butts and realize that although the political world has been occupied by assholes for quite a while, it’s important to be there and question asshole tendencies if the idea is to 474
So, you’re a citizen? Congratulations, you’re a representative
1. Why are you saying what you wish to say? 2. To whom are you saying this and from whom would you like to get a response?
3. In what way would it have to be said in order to get a response? 4. Are you using your own identity in asking these questions or are you anonymous? Since most communication happens locally and nationally in times when big issues are in the spotlight, remembering that you’re a citizen and therefore a representative for your papers is important. This is because of the very fact that being interested in deliberating on a national question really does require some legitimate reasons for doing so. That would be the citizenship. Now, as citizenship is something many people take for granted, it does involve rights and responsibilities that are written down and obvious, also including those that are read between the lines. The latter is the one on diplomacy, a fairly new event since historically, regular citizens didn’t have any business in that field.
to speak, and the responsibility to do so when there are questions that you consider far more important to emphasize. Now, not only do you represent your opinion and standpoint, but also yourself as an individual, your citizenship, the current time in which you live, and the tone of diplomacy, the communicative capacity that you hold. Yes, both IRL and online. Social media is stepping into a more sophisticated state of being, which will further enable this communication to run smoothly. Using online communication as a tool and focusing on the strengths in this way of interacting will most definitely change the way in which people relate to political figures. We’re more prone to be open and honest as we’re stepping into the online dimension, as indirect communication somehow relieves us from the stress of standing face to face with someone who is a professional politician, with the body language of an authority figure.
Representing your statements and other things It’s not ideal, but hey – That’s what we’ve got As this is the current case, as soon as you state something and especially in conversations with political figures, you’re a representative yourself. You’ve taken your right
This is Diplomacy 2.0. People all over the world are able to interact with each other and political figures, as well as representa475
tives of all sorts, whether from the public or private sector. This is fantastic, democratizing communication and diplomacy in a way that has never been done before. As online interaction depends on various factors, for those interested in seriously using their democratic right to interact â€“ the opportunities are next to endless. Thereâ€™s plenty of room for improvement in this respect, but what is currently happening could lead to a lot of great things for people all over the world. At the end of the day, itâ€™s about making choices.
Are you the cultural guerrilla warlord spreading hate?
When openness turns into aggressive behaviour
In times of mad access to data, information, other people’s lives, their habits, dreams, choices and wishes, there’s a lot of input coming through. Every day, we are attacked by thousands of views on thousands of different matters, and the reaction on this phenomena varies greatly. As in all (statistical) cases, most people are in the middle of the spectrum, meaning having no particular preference in this question. However, then there’s this small other group – WTF is up with all of that?
When someone knows it all, don’t argue In order to understand this phenomenon of cultural guerrillas and their Holy mission to spread the right teaching and nothing but the right teaching so help them Holy [insert name of preference], getting into what it is that they are talking about is a great idea. Whether it be a matter concerning women and their rights, or children, education, power and politics, dietary choices or environmental issues – they are all over these things in order to make you think the right things. For that to happen, you first have to realize that the way in which you’ve done anything and everything that doesn’t go in line with these geniuses’ ideas is WRONG, always has been and always will be. If you’ve been eating that cow or pig or chicken and you’re in a conversation with a vegetarian or vegan cultural guerrilla, you’ll pretty soon understand this whole concept. You’ve been murdering, slaughtering and stuffing on poor living souls your whole life, sinning like there’s no tomorrow. But lucky you, you’ve finally met this one genius warrior of peace to help you understand better. It’s not your fault that you’ve been this dumb your whole life, you’re just a victim of society, that’s all.
Never mind biological arguments for why you might consider to consume some meet, or any other facts. Because facts are only society’s way of programming you into making the wrong choices.
Communication isn’t a great tool if you want to rule the world Being the case of spreading the right ideas to you because you don’t know better due to the enemy programming you, you might find yourself in a huge pile of you-knowwhat. This pile consists of everything, every little part of your life, which you up until you found these geniuses did wrong. You did life wrong. You may think that you’ve fallen asleep and are now dreaming about a neo-fascist new world order, but no no no – this is just the new, free world we are talking about. Your freedom to listen to the self-proclaimed Holy cultural warriors of all sorts without questioning a word that they say (or you’re on the enemy’s side) is bigger than ever before. If anything, you should really be thankful for this opportunity. And no, you shouldn’t be all communica479
The amount of brainwashing is too damn high – Or is it?
tive about it, because at the end of the day, you don’t know what you’re talking about. You should be listening to and following the orders of the learned, the brave, the stinky cultural guerrillas allowing you to be what you are as long as that’s what they Is that all that we can produce? Really? want you to be. That’s it? Couldn’t we just go a little further and simply make sure to include these freeThese individuals are so passionate in preaching their teachings, it’s like their lives to-choose rules of life in the law in every country having these cultural guerrillas as depended on it. Except you know, they extra special citizens? don’t. Passive-aggressive individuals come in all shapes and sizes, not only arguing with you as a regular human being but taking every opportunity to fight each other. If you haven’t seen a vegan guerrilla fighting with a vegetarian one, you haven’t lived. It’s like suddenly, we’ve got more room for football hooligans, right here in the field of culture, politics and overall society. Since any question is now open for re-framing, you might find yourself in a discussion on whether toilets are really made equally, what chickens think in their cave prisons or how to mediate between your liver and right kidney through smelling flowers and punching yourself in the face three times.
Why stop there? Why not make sure to include these ways of freely thinking and questioning authority and you-name-it, to be a substantial part of how kindergarten teachers should behave towards the kids? Your little girls can’t play with dolls because they are FREE and dolls are SEXIST and so are you if you do anything but agree. We could also implement it in other institutions, like universities where we simply state one or two days each week, when it’s forbidden to wear any other color but brown. Because all other colors would indicate that you’re very much against internationally agreed upon human rights. We should also be messing into the corporate world, elegantly forcing restaurants and cafés to serve non-meat, vegan, free-walking choices of coffee EVERY TUESDAY UNTIL INFINITY because of free choice, yet again.
Nothing says freedom like so many indirectly forced rules and regulations. In order to make sure that people behave equally towards each other, we could also implement a sort of, like, you know, total prohibition of flirting. You’re not allowed to be feminine if you’re a woman because femininity is just another thing the enemy wants you to be. You weren’t born feminine, you became socially constructed into being feminine. You were feminined (it’s a word now). In this respect, there should be some sort of free understanding of that if you by any chance see a feminine woman, you’re collectively independently obliged to let her know that what she’s doing is wrong. And that she should stop it immediately.
And you think to yourself, what a wonderful world Despite things looking a bit, how to say, fucked up right now, there’s always this space in times of change when some people tend to get a bit irrational. Not pointing any fingers, the methodology by which they seek to change the world and the perspectives through which they research it, is a word we are yet to create.
To say it’s brainwashing would be to disrespect the art of brainwashing, but maybe a combination of that along with a big box of fascism. Neo-fascism, of course. The many arguments for this phenomenon to occur in many places all over the world today are happening right in front of people, to them and at them. Excluding individuals wishing to discuss, dismissing arguments not in line with the new status quo, calling critical minds ugly names and refusing to openly communicate the many, many flaws within the new pattern of thinking. Being it just one small taste of all of the beauty of this new system of ours, this could escalate pretty quickly and turn into something which history books will describe in a nasty way. Being self-critical is hard, yet it’s what has saved our ass so many times before. Even more so, not being self-critical has led to total collapse, disasters, huge (ongoing) conflicts and wars. The small group of quasi-intellectual cultural guerrillas, whether politically, ethically, religiously or in any other way motivated, are those in desperate need of a mirror it seems.
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Say hello to our awesome Summer's issue! 20 interviews with amazing creative professionals, lots of articles on international relations + a...
Published on Jul 11, 2016
Say hello to our awesome Summer's issue! 20 interviews with amazing creative professionals, lots of articles on international relations + a...